Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Michigan State Championships Report

A Report Of My Experiences At The Michigan State Championships 2015.

03/24/2015 by Chris Fulop

After taking a break after Regionals to focus on testing for Magic: The Gathering's Grand Prix Cleveland ( I didn't do particularly well. ) the looming State Championships forced me back into the grind of testing Pokemon again. I was pretty set on using my Metal deck once again, feeling like it had pretty good matchups across the board. This is the 60 cards I had planned to use for the event.

By adding Trump Card, I was securing the Night March and Flareon matchups. Mr. Mime and a 3rd Heatran would ideally lock up the Crobat matchups. Against Groudon ( or decks focused on Mega Pokemon in general ) I wanted a 3rd Heatran so I could just swarm with difficult to KO non-EX Pokemon which could just two shot them. I was done trying to chase Lasers or Iris to try and get one hit kills in those matchups. With the Trump Card, I could recycle my attackers as well, which would mitigate the downside of running so many 1 of specialied attackers. It also made my Heatran could even higher in the matchups I needed them.

To fit the Trump Card, I trimmed down to 1 Lysandre. I generally attacked the active to try and take advantage of my energy acceleration advantage, so I didn't need to Lysandre much until I was closing out the game. With Donphan on the decline ( A matchup where Lysandre was most key ) and the Trump Card giving me more Lysandre in very long games, I felt this was doable. You'll notice my jump from ZERO Battle Compressor in prior lists to THREE this time. With the deck wanting access to Trump Card early in the matchups I use it, I needed a better way to reliably get access to them. Since I did trim a Lysandre for the Trump, I wanted a way to see it sooner too. I never want to naturally draw Trump, and I added a Mr. Mime which in many matchups is a dead card. As a result, I'd like to purge the deck of those as soon as I can. Battle Compressor also helps me get Metal discarded quickly after a Trump Card use. The card was always good in the deck, just difficult to squeeze in. It has the added benefit of giving me more consistent draws in the early game, which is nice.

One of the easiest cuts to fit them was the 8th Metal Energy, since it lets you effectively see more Metal early on for Metal Links. I really like an 8th Metal, but with the changes I felt the spot could be allocated elsewhere. I was pretty thrilled with this list looking at the metagame we seemed to have after Regionals...except that I was pretty far off on my assessment of how things were trending.

By playing on PTCGO and just chatting with a bunch of my friends, it seemed that everyone was extremely high on Seismitoad EX decks, and also Yveltal. So while this build was skewed to beat Night March, Flareon, Crobat, and Groudon, the meta which seemed big for Regionals, the Meta had evolved much faster than I assumed, and we were now dealing with having to try and beat the decks which beat those decks. I overlooked how much time had passed between tournaments and how quickly players adapt now.

This left me on Friday with the big goal of testing a ton against Yveltal. I had trimmed a Dialga, and any sort of tool removal for the new additions, and that left me with a somewhat rough matchup in theory. I was positive that the build would be really poor against Garbodor builds. The archetype can be good against Yveltal, but it has to make sacrifices to do so, and the opposite from what kind of sacrifices I had been making. I cut the 3rd Heatran to fit the 2nd Dialga back in, and played some games against my friend David Cook in our hotel room in Kalamazoo the night before Michigan States.


I went 1-3, and he wasn't even using Garbodor. Now, in my defense, I was drawing extremely poorly, missing a ton of energy drops and just having the kind of draws which would lose most games, matchup aside. It was pretty disheartening. I was getting similarly bad luck against Night March, still managing to pull off a 2-1 record, as it was nearing 5 am the day of the tournament. ( Sleep is overrated, right? ) I was pretty sure I could write off a lot of the performance as poor variance since what I was struggling with is not traditionally a problem for the deck, but I hate going into an event with a lack of confidence in a deck. At this point, between my testing and the other games played in the room, all we had done was make everyone hate all of our potential deck choices.

I was stuck deciding to either stick to my guns with my boy Bronzong, default to Yveltal Seismitoad, or brew something spicy and run it very, very undertested. One of the decks I wanted to try out was a bit...unorthodox, and I want to show off the initial list.

Ok, so I felt like Aromatisse is a very, very good card. I felt like there was very little incentive to focus purely on Fairy type Pokemon. It seemed like Enhanced Hammer was at an all time low in terms of play. Teammates made it very easy to get ahold of Rainbow Energy now. One major problem I had with the Fairy builds was a very visible disconnect between Xerneas and the reliance on Fairy Garden to switch between Pokemon.

Xerneas is very ideal to attack with on the first turn ( Going 2nd, of course. ) but you had no ability to retreat into one and use Geomancy in the same turn unless you opened with the thing. This led to decks running an inflated count of them to start with it, and they offered somewhat diminishing returns. I agree that you really need a degree of energy acceleration to help the deck keep up. I feel like something needed fixed, and thats either to find a better way to get Xerneas out sooner, or to look to another source of attachments.

Enter Whiscash. The card has a nice sturdy 110 HP, and reasonable albeit expensive attacks. The key, of course, is it's Alpha Growth traith which lets you attach multiple energy in a turn to it. They don't have to be Basic Energy, say, if you Teammates for a pair of Rainbow Energy, you could dump them both into play, then move them to an attacker with Aromatisse. This meant that you didn't have to force Geomancy throughout the game, which was annoying since it ate up a lot of attack steps. It also was extra clunky with trying to Mega Evolve attackers. Now, you could keep putting pressure on and afford to miss Geomancy attacks and still put energy into play. None the less, it seemed short sighted to not at least include one copy of Xerneas for midgame off-turns where you could abuse it.

The next question was what Pokemon do we want to attack with? Mega Manectric ( And Manectric EX in general ) was a great base attacker in old Fairy Box lists, as it was fast, stable, and low maintance. It gave you some pretty strong game even when your deck was misbehaving and not setting up too smoothly. It also was going to help deal with Yveltal decks. Aromatisse traditionally struggles with Garbodor. Other lists have Florges as a means to Lysandre and kill it, we have Manectric who can do 120 to a Tool'd up Garbodor for the same purpose. The Mega can also help put more energy into play too.

I felt like Aegislash EX was very well positioned in the format, and it seemed like a pretty easy addition to the deck. It was a bit gimped in offensive potential due to having a limited number of Rainbow Energy, but in matchups you use it, you want its defensive ability much more so than it's damage output.

The final piece of the puzzle was the greediest, but possibly best part of the deck. I love Primal Groudon. It is extremely difficult to OHKO, can't be disrupted, and once powered, pretty much gives you an auto-win against Seismitoad decks. The problem I had with it was that I feel Landorus EX and Hawlucha are wildly ill prepared for the metagame that has evolved around them. There is also a disconnect between what they offer as supporting attackers and what Groudon needs as support. Groudon sweeps a game, and these Pokemon use effecient attacks and speed to put out some damage. They don't really cover Groudon's weaknesses, they are just the best attackers Fighting has to offer, so they get thrown in with it because you have to use something. There just aren't a ton of options to power up Groudon with accelerators.

Well, if we're using Rainbow Energy anyways, why not just go all in with it, right? Three Rainbow seems really ambitious, but we have Teammates to search them out now, which we didn't before. Primal Groudon's Trait also prevents the Rainbows from being picked off of it while you power it up. With Whiscash, you can get them out much quicker than before as well. What is even cuter about this set up is the "pipe dream" ( It isn't actually hard to do at all ) of using Max Potion with Primal Groudon. Groudon fits pretty well into the deck too, as it already runs 4 Fairy Garden to hit the necessary high Stadium count!

One of the losses we have from going with a heavy Fighting build of Groudon is a lack of Fighting Stadiums and Strong Energy. Without Muscle Band ( A card we opt against since the deck is very defensive and would rather use deck space towards making sure it sets up, at which point damage output matters less ) Groudon is often hitting for "only" 200 damage. Manectric EX can start putting 20 damage on Pokemon with too many hit points to OHKO here to make up for that. Groudon also likes 5 Stadium cards to key off of, so the 5th was a Fighting Stadium for a bit of a damage boost. Beyond this, I included one Strong Energy, because I wanted a 5th Fighting source to begin with, and it can be grabbed with Teammates. This way, one Teammates can theoretically grab the extra 40 damage to secure other big Mega and Primal Pokemon in a pinch.

You'll notice I didn't run any Spirit Links. Part of this was a space issue, and I felt like the deck was well suited to just skip turns and get them out the hard way. I also feel like I'll end up adding one, but I'm not sure which one is more important. Despite Manectric being the thinner line, I feel like it's Spirit Link matters more, as when I go that route, I usually care about tempo more. In matchups with Groudon as a focus, it usually just sweeps the game single handedly and tempo matters less, so I can just suck up the loss and still win.

I wound up playing 3 games with the deck, and won all three. I was really impressed by what it was able to do, but I could tell it had some major issues with construction. I'll go over some of the problems I spotted with the minimal amount of testing I had done with it.

- It needs more energy to abuse Whiscash. Whicash proved pretty easy to get into play as a 2-2 line, and in theory was going to offer me a pretty nice advantage. Unfortunately, I was only running 10 energy...and I was very rarely able to have enough in hand to milk this advantage. This either meant that Whiscash was unnecessary, or that I needed to better build with those energy in mind. This could be by either running simply more energy, or cards like Professor Letter or Energy Retrieval type effects to get a pair of energy at a time. My initial thought was to go down to a 1-1 line, as a 2nd copy of the card is actually useless since you cannot trigger multiple Whiscash in the same turn. One of the other issues I had, which somewhat hindered how useful Whiscash was, was...

- Nothing ever died, so Teammates rarely triggered. Teammates is so good in the deck, but the deck is also inherently beefy and hard to get KOs on, so I didn't get to use them as often as I wanted to. This meant that banking on the card to fuel the engine was a bit clunky. On the other hand, if I'm not giving up kills, I'm not in that bad of shape anwyays. I'm not sure the best way to fix this clash, though

- I have no idea what the right assortment of tech Pokemon would be. I included some of the obvious ones, but lets look at some of the other options: Suicune. Malamar EX. Xerneas EX. Virizion EX. Mewtwo EX. Yveltal EX. Seismitoad EX. There are likely even more than that. This isn't a bad thing, at all, it just means the deck was far from being fine tuned.

The deck seems pretty good in theory. Groudon should give you a big edge against almost all Seismitoad EX builds. That is huge. Manectric EX covers Yveltal, and should also give you inherent game against Garbodor decks. Metal decks aren't handling Groudon or Manectric very well. Crobat decks should struggle against all of the Max Potions. Manectric EX picks apart the Bats, and they certainly struggle against Aegislash EX. Virizion Genesect was on a steep decline, which would be a huge problem for the deck. The big issue here is that the deck looks like it would be pretty miserable against Night March and Flareon decks. I was hoping Manectric EX plus Max Potions alongside Trump Card would be enough for those matchups, but I suspect it may not be enough. I realized after the 3 games I did play that I simply didn't have enough time to test it to really allow myself to play such an unusual deck for the event.

I decided I was just going to use Yveltal Seismitoad because it was just the safest play. I had played enough Yveltal by this point to know what I am doing with it well enough. Here is the list I wound up registering for the event.

I wanted to be a very proactive build of the deck. I hated Head Ringer in the deck. It was dead in too many matchups, and just very weak when a player knew to play around them. They would sometimes score some big blowouts, but not enough. To reliably take advantage of them, you had to run too many copies of them. I wanted a large Switch count, so I could get Seismitoad EX up and attacking on the first turn in matchups I wanted it, and I wanted to be able to use baby Yveltal ( in my opinion the best card in the deck! ) early when I wanted to. In a lot of games, I'd want to switch Seismitoad out for an Yveltal EX midgame too, and wouldn't want to attach a 3rd energy to do so. (Darkrai EX didn't help too much because you usually just used a DCE)

Since the deck relied a lot on Yveltal and Toad, I wanted a full set of 4 Muscle Band. This meant I could be more liberal with attaching them for set up hits. As I said, I was good with this deck, but not great, and hadn't tested every matchup as much as other players had likely tested against this deck. Therefore I wanted to focus on the aggressive side of the deck and not force super grindy longer games where their additional experience may give them edges. It is important for any player, regardless of skill level, to honestly evaluate where they stand going into a tournament. The four Bands also helped against Head Ringers. In Toad mirrors, I wanted to be able to stick a Band on a Toad on the first turn of the game every time.

Pokemon Center Lady was a defensive inclusion to help against Crobat decks, but also to use in Toad matchups. Depending on their build, I could either try to play the Quaking Punch mirror, or focus on Yveltal EX (Which would come up eventually anyways) and Pokemon Center Lady would be a nice bit of insurance against Laser flips gone bad.

The last few spots in the deck were in contention down to the very end:

1 Skyla

4th Ultra Ball

3rd Switch

I was torn between the Skyla and Ultra Ball and 2 Acrobikes. I was also torn between the last Switch, or a 2nd Energy Switch. I decided I really wanted the Skyla, as I appreciate having the Jirachi > Skyla > Comp. Search > DCE line in this deck. This also made me want to run the 3rd Switch so I could more reliably get a turn 1 Seismitoad going. I felt that I wanted the extra strength against Night March, but more so, Flareon, which could still beat a mid to late game Trump card. I was torn between the 4th Ultra Ball, a lone Acrobike, or a Battle Compressor. There are arguments for each of these cards. I really like 4 Ultra Ball in the deck in general

(I know a lot of lists only opt for 3.) The 4th Ball also helps me get the Jirachi early on, which just has to be done in a lot of games due to the state of Supporters at the moment. I also want to get out Darkrai EX early against Toad decks before Quaking Punch lock happens. I actually am not sure what the right way to handle the last few spots was, but I certainly wasn't unhappy with what I registered.

From my room, Cook decided to go with his TDK deck, Dan went with my Metal list, and Neil went with Yveltal Seismitoad. Carl ( Who wound up in our room Saturday night due to complications. ) went with Yveltal Toad as well. We had roughly roughly 150 Masters, with 8 rounds and a top 8 cut off. Kicker Championship Points would trickle down all the way to top 32.

Regionals Tournament Report

R1 vs Cody with Pyroar Seismitoad

I get paired against a player who, after the match, I find out is a fellow Magic player, who is fairly new to the Pokemon TCG.

Game One

I go first, opening with a Seismitoad EX against his Seismitoad. He had Mulliganned once, and revealed Fire Energy and a Fiery Torch. I get a turn one Laser, without a Virbank, and he Junipers into a second Seismitoad. Unfortunately, from here, my Quaking Punch really cuts off his game, and the Laser finishes off his first Toad pretty quickly. His second one gets killed by my Yveltal, leaving him benched, and us off to a second game.


Game Two

I open Yveltal EX, and he opens Litleo, which is what I suspected from the first game. Unfortunately, I'm not running Garbodor, which meant Pyroar could be a bit of a problem for me. I don't feel too bad about it because Quaking Punch plus Lasers can really pull a lot of weight. Previously, it would come down to whether they could retreat around Poison enough to force me out of Lasers, but with Trump Card, I have a limitless supply of them. ( Trump Card is probably a negative card for the game, by the way. Resource management is more or less a non-factor now, which isn't really a good thing. )

I have the ability to get a Toad active on the first turn, but my N fails to yield a DCE. His hand is bad, and he evolves into Pyroar on the second turn, but fails to bench anything or play a Supporter. I get Quaking Punch on my second turn, and match it with a Virbank and Laser. He fails to see a second Basic before Laser kills off his Pyroar securing me the match win.


1-0 ( 3 points )

R2 vs Bryan with Night March

Bryan was on Night March, which was one of the matchups I really wanted to play against with this deck. In fact, it was one of the reasons I wanted to use the deck in the first place.

Game One

He gets a pretty good start with a pair of Battle Compressor. I keep up because I can pick on Pumpkaboos. I actually struggles to deal with Mew EX since I wasn't really able to power up Yveltal EX. I struggle to find a Trump Card, but I get one near the end and am able to Quaking Punch from there and close the game.


Game Two

This game I get to lead with Seismitoad EX. This slows his set up down enough to offset the fact I again am slow to see my Trump Card. He actually slows me down a bit by using Mew EX to Quaking Punch me back, which I had overlooked. It was sloppy, and I missed a strong VS Seeker play because of it. I was comfortably ahead anyways, but bad play is still bad play, and I was determined to get my head back into the game a bit more.


2-0 ( 6 points )

R3 vs Marc with Seismitoad Slurpuff Manectric

Marc is one of the Canadians who made the trip down into Michigan for States. He was on Seismitoad Slurpuff with a lone Manectric EX splash, which was not at all what I wanted to see.

Game One

Marc opens Jirachi EX, and no Supporter. Of course, he does have an Ultra Ball, for the extra salt in the wound. I actually have a fairly slow start, all things considered, but he proceeds to draw terribly, pretty much doing nothing the entire game until I bench him.


Game Two

This game doesn't go as well. He is able to take advantage in the Toad war, as I'm not really able to really force an Yveltal game against him because he checks it with the Manectric EX. We have the standard Punch Off, and I opt to break it to Lysandre up his Manectric EX to put 50 damage on it. Ideally, he misses an energy drop ( He had a small hand, and had not been attaching energy. ) Otherwise, I really needed the extra damage on it so I could kill it with an Yveltal EX once I went that route. He had the energy necessary to retreat, and re-establish the item lock. I start to build Yveltals on the bench, and actually give myself a pretty good looking exchange, as I KO the Toad, and then the Manectric EX later. Unfortunately, I end up eating an N to 2, which I don't recover from, losing a prolonged end game where there wasn't a whole lot I could do.


Game Three

We end up with not a whole lot of time to play a third game, and we both get a pretty developed board state, and go to Quaking Punching. I don't like the matchup at all, Manectric is really backbreaking for me as the rest of my Toad game is definitely an underdog against the Slurpuff builds if I can't leverage a tanked Yveltal EX. The game is almost assuredly a draw, but I could tell my opponent was playing a little bit more methodically than the past game. ( Nothing out of the range of acceptable, at all, just less rushed, which if you were aiming to win a third game, you'd be doing. ) I ask if he wants to just draw, and he accepts. I figured it was 90% to end in a draw anyways, with him being much more likely to steal a win against me than vice versa.

2-0-1 ( 7 points )

R4 vs Mikal with Yveltal Seismitoad Garbodor

Mikal is another Canadian player...well, ok, honorary Canadian? He was from Malaysia, attending college in Canada. I found out afterwards that he had been a multiple time Worlds competitor in the past. I am also pretty sure I misspelled his name, so if anyone wants to correct me, I'll gladly fix it.

Game One

I felt like I should be a favorite in this match because Garbodor doesn't really do anything in the matchup besides threaten to negate my Darkness Veil. This meant he had 4 spots, plus excess tools, which were close to dead draws. I actually feel like I get off to the better start, and start to press an advantage. He ends up Lysandre'ing to break up my Quaking Punch lock, and he carefully maneuvers himself into a favorable board state from there. I miss a few draws near the end, and again eat some really ugly looking Ns, before giving up my last two prizes. I feel like I certainly got outplayed this game. I don't think I made any clear errors, but he certainly showed a more intricate understanding of the “mirror” match than I had since I had just picked the deck up. I definitely had a winning board state by midgame, and let it slip away. There are very few games where you lose and don't blame your own poor play, or bad/lucky draws, and actually just feel like strong play by your opponent closed out a very close game.


Game Two

I get a much better start, and I take an early two prizes. He is left stranded with a Seismitoad EX with 150 damage on the bench, and a Jirachi EX. We don't have a whole lot of time left, so it becomes a race for whether I can set up a win before time is called. Time gets called, and I am turn 1 and 3. I have to either pull off back to back Lysandre, or go with the route I actually take: Darkrai EX. I Energy Switch off an Yveltal EX to Darkrai EX, and attach to it, VS Seekering for a Lysandre ( To avoid Quaking Punch ) He doesn't have an N, and next turn I attach and Lysandre up Jirachi EX, Night Spearing to KO it and the hanging Seismitoad EX to pull off the draw for the match.


2-0-2 ( 8 points )

R5 vs Carl with Yveltal Seismitoad

Yay, I get paired against Carl, who had just lost to Nik Campbell after beating Dustin Zimmerman in round 3. Carl was on 9 points, and I got the pair up. I figure, at least if I lose, then Carl is in a better position to make his push for top 8, since I was in a really bad spot to make it myself. This deck was extremely likely to get draws in a lot of matchups, and a 3rd draw eliminates me.

Game One

He goes first, getting a DCE on his Seismitoad he opened with against my baby Yveltal. He lasers it. I draw, and manage to pull off the Seismitoad EX, DCE, Switch, and Laser, letting me win the first Seismitoad exchange. I get a better Yveltal EX presence built, and get a Lysandre KO on one of his Yveltal EX, and the next turn he scoops, being in a really bad spot, to try and give himself enough time for three games. That is actually a bit of a mistake, because if he forces a game 3 that goes to a draw, he had to know I would scoop since the draw knocks me out of t8 contention.


Game Two: This time, the tables are turned, and he gets the better Quaking Punch start, and I'm unable to match it, and he gets Laser supremacy. I scoop pretty quickly in once he takes a 3 prize advantage and my field is poor.


Game Three: I get a pretty good start, getting the same kind of state as the first game. I get the knock out on the Toad first, and he had to bench a Jirachi to set up. I end up Lysandre'ing an Yveltal for a KO to go to two prizes to his 5, and he Ns me. I'm stuck trying to draw into a Lysandre to win the game, instead dead drawing, supporterless, for the rest of the game, allowing him to collect his last 5 prizes before I get to do much of anything.


2-1-2 ( 8 points )

R6 vs Kevin with Flareon

I hadn't seen Kevin in YEARS prior to this game. This is Canadian #3 for me. I think the last time I played him was 2010, or early 2011. ( There was a time when my memory was good, I promise! )

Game One

Kevin was on Flareon, and goes first. I get a turn one KO with Baby Yveltal and a Laser on I believe an Eevee. He gets rolling pretty quickly, but I'm not able to see a Seismitoad early, and I notice on the first look through my deck that I had prized my Trump Card. I was now forced to either win the race the hard way, which was really doable with my early prize lead and a fairly good Yveltal based start, or hope to liberate my Trump Card early enough to matter. This matchup is a lot tougher than Night March because if they get Slurpuffs or Empoleon out, their ability to recover from a Trump Card is real. Plus, Leafeon made the “Trump Plus Quaking Punch” line more vulnerable. I take the first two prizes, but his set up gets pretty well developed and I still hadn't seen my Trump Card. He has two benched Jirachi EX, and I end up Lysandre'ing one up and Koing it, going down to two prizes. I get N'd into nothing, and he takes a prize, going down to two. I have to pass, and he gets to take a prize, going down to one left. I have one turn to draw into a Lysandre, or lose, and I actually DO draw it, and get to KO the second Jirachi as planned. ( I could have theoretically kept up an exchange of 1 prize a turn and won if I didn't chase both Jirachis, but I would have likely lost that route on the back of him depleting my field of energy or attackers. I could have kept up on prizes, but not attackers. )


Game Two

This game, he starts really poorly and I lead with a Seismitoad EX. I end up establishing the Quaking Punch lock the whole game, and even hit an early Trump Card before he gets anything going to undo the slight build he had established. This game was really lopsided, and really showcased why I wanted to play this deck to capitalize on the gimmick Battle Compressor decks.


3-1-2 ( 11 points )

R7 vs Zach with Seismitoad Slurpuff Leafeon

This round I get paired vs Zach Lesage, who I'd chatted with a bunch during the event. ( Canadian #4 ) I know he was on Seismitoad Slurpuff Leafeon, which I felt would be favorable for me, but I was unsure. He was not running Hammers, so I felt like an Yveltal approach would be good in this matchup. Usually, I feel pressured into having to use my own Toads just to keep Slurpuff builds off of Hammers . Vs Garbodor builds, I am extra weak to Lasers if I do not Quaking Punch as I can't hinge on Darkrai to easily retreat off my Poison. In this spot, the biggest issue I felt would be balancing energy in play to avoid being blown out by Leafeon too much. I felt there would be a weird balance I would have to strike between sweeping with Yveltal EX and not just getting hit for infinite damage in return. He ran a Mewtwo, as well, which would be a problem to play around with a big Yveltal too. The biggest disadvantage I felt I had going into this match was that he, for certain, would have tested this matchup a lot, while I would have to try and evaluate everything on the fly.

We both had 11 points, and felt like 15 points would end up in the top 32. My plan, after taking early losses and draws, was to win round 7, and try and draw in round 8 to secure that spot. Zach was more or less on the same plan. Therefore, instead of playing it out, we decided to Intentionally Draw, getting us both to 12 points, and in range of top 32 with a win in the final round. Rather than force us to play each other for the win, we took our draw early, ideally playing easier competition in the final round for the needed win. In addition to this, in a lot of cases, our potential 8th round opponents may not be interested in drawing, meaning we'd need to win two matches instead of one to get championship points.

After this, we sit down and play a game for fun, and I get a pretty poor opening. I have an Yveltal I open with, and I have an Ultra Ball in hand, alongside a Colress. I could get Jirachi and N or Juniper, but be unlikely to get any real progress on my first turn, or grab a Seismitoad EX, which I could Band and DCE, and hope to either draw out of it, or let him bench enough stuff to make Colress playable. His deck runs Eevees and Slurpuffs, so it isn't difficult to get him to bench say, 3 Pokemon. The game should go really long, and didn't strike me as tempo oriented at all, so I was fine sitting on Colress. He was actually faced with a similar spot, with an N in his hand, but also an Ultra Ball. He could get Jirachi for a Juniper, or N me. He opts to N me, either feeling he was favored in the matchup if we both develop evenly, or thinking my hand was stronger than it was. ( We spent a lot of time discussing both of our opening turn options after the game. ) The game stagnates, and I end up getting pretty far ahead with Yveltal EX and get down to 2 prizes, but he sticks a strong N ( story of my tournament ) and I am unable to get enough going from there to close it out, and he completes the comeback to win the game. He had a benched Jirachi EX that I was waiting to pick off, but Lysandre wasn't in the cards.

3-1-3 ( 12 points )

R8 vs Dustin with Crobat Seismitoad

“Play weaker opponent round 8” gambit: Failed. Dustin Zimmerman was 4-3, also with 12 points and competing for top 32.

Game One

Dustin was on Crobat Seismitoad. We both start off using Quaking Punch, benching another two Seismitoads and a baby Yveltal. He benches a Skrelp, which I end up Lysandre'ing, and Punching it, breaking his lock on me. I eventually transition into an Yveltal EX, getting a KO on a lightly damaged Seismitoad EX when I hit a DCE. I get a KO on a 2nd Seismitoad EX the next turn, going down to one prize, to his six still. He Ns me into a dead hand ( here we go again! ) and I never draw a Lysandre or even a Pokemon Center Lady ( which would have won me the game ) as he comes back to take all 6 prizes while I draw no cards I can play for like 6 turns.


The game took over a half hour, because we both took pretty long turns to make sure we didn't mess anything up. I concede the match, because there would not be enough time for me to complete two more games. Even had I won the second game, the third would take us into a draw, which would make both of us out of contention for anything. With the way the matchup plays out, it would be near impossible to judge who was really “winning” to properly decide on a concession. If I won a short game 2 ( which is how I'd have to even take it to 3 ) I'd end up using who won the more impressive game 1 or 2 as my tie breaker for who deserves the win, and I already knew my tie breaker would go to Dustin for how well he handled the first game.

3-2-3 ( 12 points )

Overall, this was a pretty awful performance, but I didn't feel like I played poorly overall. I also didn't mind my deck choice. If my list for it was off from what I'd want, it wasn't by much. I got paired against so much Seismitoad EX and my list was just not tuned to have a real advantage in the matchup. I found myself paired against players using Toad decks which were built more to beat other Toad decks, and that put me in a pretty bad position. I expected Toad to be one of the most played decks, but I had no possible reason to expect Toad to be OVERWHELMINGLY the most played card at the event. 7 of the top 8 decks at the event wound up being decks using Seismitoad EX. The event was won by a Seismitoad deck running four Jynx, because it just destroyed mirror match, if that was any indication of what the metagame had turned out to be like. I can't even saying I had a bad metagame read...I don't know how I could have looked at the information available and expect that much Toad to show up. I usually beat myself up when I make such an off assessment, but thats not the case here.

I hate using the excuse of negative variance, but so many of my games were lost to just getting N'd out of winning game states. I feel like Yveltal is a good deck, but just full of 50-50 matchups that are EXTREMEY grindy. It feels like you are always forced to really work for your wins, and not necessarily in a good way. I don't dislike the deck, its still one of the best calls, but I think it is more the safe pick than a great pick. It is well on everyone's radar, which is a huge problem for this kind of deck.

I think what I take from this event overall is that Night March and Flareon are facing a very difficult road ahead. I expected a lot of them, and a lot of counter decks. I think with how much Toad we saw, that the deck is hard to justify using now. I don't expect much of a decline in Toad decks coming up because of how abusively good the card is, but I do expect a sharp decline in Item based decks. Therefore, decks I would have otherwise avoided due to the hype of those decks are now back on the table for consideration.

Also, Kyogre EX decks did very well at States, and have a lot of hype behind them. I'd expect to see them pop up in decent numbers next weekend. The deck Kevin Baxter used to t4 Michigan ( He lost because he dead drew two games in the Semis, otherwise its very likely he wins because the deck was very well positioned against Seismitoad. ) was pretty straight forward, using Primal Kyogre with a bunch of assorted Water attackers to move energy to. I think there could be more ambitious builds of Primal Kyogre though! I'm a really big fan of Archie, and if Orion Craig's assessment of pulling off a turn 1 Archie 40% of the time in Flareon is true, then I would like to try a similar engine with Primal Kyogre. A turn 1 Primal leads to a turn 2 attack, opposed to it coming online on the third turn. Unlike some gimmicky engines, the downside of “missing” is mitigated because you can still run a 4-3 Kyogre line and therefore reliably get it out turn 3 anyways. I just figured the deck would gain so much off of the increased speed a portion of the time. ( You also could run cards like Blastoise, or Empoleon as support. ) I don't necessarily have a list for this yet, but I think the idea is solid and worth exploring.

Without Night March and Flareon, I also expect Groudon could surge in popularity. ( Note on a fun bit of tech played by Justin Young at MI States: Sharpedo EX. It's drag off attack lets you pull up Groudon from the bench so you can beat it up before it gets powered, which is huge in that matchup! It was played at other States as well, but I think Justin was the only one to use it in MI. ) This makes me feel like Grass is really well positioned. If the next States was tomorrow, I would, for certain, be using my Sceptile Genesect deck. Its worst matchups were Flareon and Night March, which are now gone. It is good against Seismitoad decks, and Yveltal. To top it off, it beats Kyogre due to Weakness, and is clearly good against Groudon decks as well. Finally, if other people notice that Grass is really well positioned and try to go with Virizion based Genesect decks, this has a distinct “mirror” advantage, so you are favored there too. Here is the current list I am using.

I've touched on why I like the deck in past articles so I'm not going to beat that to death anymore. I'm not certain this is the perfect 60 cards, but it is a good starting point. If it is off, it isn't off by much. Being able to justify taking the near auto losses to the Battle Compressor decks is such a boon to this archetype. I also like how it just has a ton of raw power, which makes you well positioned in a wider field too.

Hopefully everyone had a fun experience at the State Championships they went to last weekend. I didn't do nearly as well as I wanted to, but I still had a lot of fun. ( This isn't usually the case for bad events. ) Good luck to everyone attending a States this weekend ( and in later States as well! ) and hopefully we'll see the metagame evolve, and not just stagnate into a Quaking mess, if you will.  



[+1] okko


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