Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Fall Regionals Week 2 Tournament Report

My 12th Place tournament report for Philly Regionals with Yveltal/Raichu.

10/16/2015 by Chris Fulop

Hello again, everyone! I'm a little late getting this written up, as a result of getting sick after attending "Philly" Regionals last weekend. Apparently, I was not the only one with that problem. At the moment, it is looking unlikely that I'll be feeling well enough to make the trip out to Fort Wayne as I'd be intending. If this cold breaks by Friday evening, I'll make the trek, but as I'm typing this, I am not particularly optimistic. I'm going to go over my experiences from my trip to Pennsylvania, and then include a few ideas for what I would play for Week 3 of Regionals (or for any additional future Expanded events!)

I left from Ohio at noon on Friday, meeting up with Dan Polo, David Cook, and James Richards. We drive about an hour before scooping up Rob Simkins, and awkwardly cramming a fifth person into a car which really shouldn't be packing more than four people. At least three of us are 6'2, and the smallest person in the car, Dan, was driving. I was fortunate enough to be able to power play my way into claiming shotgun. The ride out was going smoothly...almost too smoothly...well, until we get to the roughly hour delay caused by some awkward accident-induced traffic jam.

Dan had booked a hotel which was about a five-minute walk from the location of the actual tournament...which was across from "Dutch Wonderland," the Pennsylvanian Disney. The "amusement park" looked to be a series of very corny looking castles with a fairly unimpressive looking...wooden?...roller coaster running in the back. The icing on the cake, though, was this giant purple animatronic dragon perched outside of it, which would occasionally...often...make, well, dragon noises. The hotel we stayed at was actually pretty nice, and very affordable overall. The room was huge, even if the beds were pretty small, and were very fitting for us to cram five people into for the weekend. To top it off, there was a row of pool tables just down the hall from our room...which, might I add, turned out to be a really bad thing.

I wound up staying up until 5 AM playing pool with Rob. (I am awful at pool...the only game I won all night was when Rob scratched on the eightball. We were also...not particularly the most sober...) Rob was playing in the VGC, so he had nothing to do until Sunday. On the other hand, I'm just apparently masochistic and make poorly advised decisions. I get roughly two hours of pretty poor sleep, and wake up and have a choice between two decks to play for the event.

Prior to playing pool, I logged some games with my Yveltal/Seismitoad deck. I made a few adjustments to previous lists, since the big breakout card from Week 1 of Regionals was Ghetsis. The card is pretty awesome, and any game you get to go first and slam it on an opponent just feels great. Not only was it a card I had previously overlooked (well, so did most people...even though I did fall victim to the card in the 60cards Invitational at the hands of Andrew Estrada) and one I wanted to play, but it is also a card that I expected would see a lot of play. As a result, I wanted to adjust the list to not only better take advantage of the card, but also to be better equipped to combat it.

Here is the list I would up at the night before:

First change was to add the Ghetsis. On one hand, you have Battle Compressor and VS Seeker to get to the card, but I wanted to run a Jirachi-EX to make it even more reliable. I also really like Jirachi against Toad decks, and fringe stuff like Accelgor where Shaymin is a bit weaker when your hand gets clogged. I cut the second Shaymin for it, and the 1/1 split seemed to play out pretty well.

I had been wanting to run an Absol ROS/AZ pairing for awhile, and the addition of Jirachi pushed me even farther in that direction. The final addition I made was to add a Hoopa-EX. The card had been impressive in other decks, and the idea of Ultra Balling for a Hoopa-EX, grabbing Jirachi-EX (for Ghetsis) Shaymin-EX, and your choice of EX attacker. This leads to some extremely dominant starts, at the cost of burning up a lot of Bench space. This deck actually can afford to do that if you play tight enough, though. The AZ gives you enough Bench space flexibility to play around with things if it does get tight. I'd be a lot more skeptical of the Hoopa if I were not running it.

To fit these cards, I cut the Trainers' Mail from my previous list. First off, I wanted to hedge against Ghetsis. By turning one into a Supporter (the Ghetsis), the deck is a little less susceptable to the sure-to-be-popular Supporter. On top of this, Ghetsis' influence over the deck was deeper than just what to include in the list: it changed how I played the deck. Previously, I had often been opting to go second with the deck. This was to be able to either get a turn-one Quaking Punch, or even a turn-one Yveltal-EX attack off. It was a close call between going first or second, but I preferred second in many cases. Now, between wanting to stick a turn-one Ghetsis, and wanting to avoid being caught turn one by an opposing one, it was pretty clear cut that every deck wants to go first now. As a result, Trainers' Mail was less useful. Before, it performed the role of being glue that helped assemble all of the pieces for an ideal turn-one attack (often digging towards Switches). Now, since you (ideally) have two turns to assemble an attack, Mail is just underwhelming.

The final slot in this deck comes down to the seventh Darkness Energy and the third Virbank City Gym. I was torn between which card needed the bump up, and never really reached much of a conclusion before I decided not to run this deck.
I had been chatting on Facebook with Daniel Altavilla about Yveltal/Raichu prior to Week 1 of Regionals (he narrowly bubbled Top 32 in Texas, I believe) and was on the fence about considering the deck for my tournament. I went to bed while browsing Facebook on my phone, and saw a post by Andrew Wamboldt mentioning if he went to Regionals he would be using the deck as well. This reassurance regarding the deck really made me consider playing a build of the deck. I really like Raichu as a whole, and in a big event like this, I like decks which have at least some sort of autowins. Having a huge edge in Yveltal mirror, plus giving me game against Mega Rayquaza-EX, a deck that did well above expectations Week 1, felt very alluring.

I quickly reviewed both players' Yveltal/Raichu lists, and coupled it with what I knew about both Raichu decks, and Yveltal decks, and threw my own build together. I really liked my Yveltal/Toad deck, but I felt like this deck was better positioned. Traditional Yveltal builds likely had a big target in their head. (This was true: Mega Manectric-EX was one of the two major decks that overran the event. The other, of course, being Vespiquen, which Jimmy O'Brien 15-0-1'd the whole event with.)

The numbers are not particularly out of the ordinary, but I'll go over some of the more interesting numbers.

1 Battle Compressor: I wanted a pair, but the deck just can't fit it. I've been really thrilled with two copies of the card in my Yveltal lists, even though Israel Sosa ran three copies of the card in his winning list. (Thanks, Pokémon, for posting the lists on the Friday before the event...either don't post them, or post them earlier in the week. The day before the next event seems a bit unprofessional.)

3 Sky Field: The deck isn't a dedicated Raichu build, so a fourth copy isn't necessary. Pretty much every list of the deck I'd seen ran three, and it both felt right, and wound up being right too.

2 Switch: The card may not be necessary in Yveltal builds, but the card has always impressed me. Now that I'm not trying to go second and get a first-turn attack off as often, the card is a bit worse, but I still like it. Some players opt for Float Stone, and I get it, but I've been pretty happy with just using standard old Switch.

3 Yveltal-EX: I'd been using only 2 in my Yveltal/Seismitoad build, but had recently been toying with adding the third. I caved in here and ran the third and it was a mistake. The damage output of the card in this build without Laser is just not strong enough to really want three copies of the card.

Anyways, we wind up having 453 Masters, meaning we "narrowly" got nine rounds of Swiss Day 1 with a cut to Top 32. With so many players, the projected cutoff was twenty points (6-1-2) for a guaranteed Day 2. Nineteen points (6-2-1) would be the bubble mark, with most nineteen-pointers falling below 32nd Place.

Round 1 versus Yveltal: WIN (2-0)

I wound up getting a slightly better start Game 1 in this matchup, which made up for the fact that I really struggled to see a Pikachu until the middle of the game. I feel like this first game would have been a win even with no Raichu in the deck.
The second game, I got a pair of Pikachu down early, and while the game wasn't completely noncompetitive, I definitely had firm control over the game from the start. While I assumed the Raichus would end up making this matchup pretty lopsided (I mean, this was my first game with the deck) it was a lot much more lopsided than I had expected.


Round 2 versus Mega Manectric/Garbodor: LOSS (1-2)

This was the round where I realized that getting to the pairings board—a necessity since the internet in the venue made actually accessing the online pairings a nigh impossibility—was going to be extremely difficult. Before pairings went up, I was chatting with Eric Gansman, and he joked about playing me Round 2. Sure enough, he makes it to the pairings board, and out of about 225 potential opponents, we actually were paired up.

Eric was on the very popular Mega Manectric deck, which I knew would be difficult to beat with my configuration. I was hoping that Yveltal plus Raichu on a Mega Manectric (with Raichu doing 180 shots to Manectric/Hoopa/Shaymin) would be enough to be able to win the matchup. Besides that, I wanted to crutch on Darkrai-EX as an attacker, and immediately regretted not having a second copy.

Game 1, I go second, a huge problem, and I end up getting beat by Rough Seas. I give myself a number of spots where I can get a win if I can get some damage to stick, but I struggle to keep him off of Rough Seas and his healing is too much for me and I lose. (It was oddly competitive, but I needed a few breaks to be able to turn it around, and I didn't get them.)

Game 2, he gets a pretty weak start and mine is pretty good. I can win the matchup on the play, and with him stumbling, it was a pretty easy game. Game 3, I see a line I can take to be able to put myself in a good position to get three EX KOs for my six Prizes, and overextend with a Supporter and two Shaymin EX uses to try and see a Switch for a KO. Well, despite a good shot at seeing it or a Computer Search, I miss, and my entire game plan is just derailed, as I get my Yveltal-EX Lysandre'd and lose all of my Energy in play (I was going to Y-Cyclone a Shaymin EX for 110 and split the energy otherwise) and the game boils down into a bloodbath. It would have been really interesting had I hit that Switch. I feel like I could have won, but I don't feel like i was a favorite. 


Round 3 versus Fighting: WIN (2-0)

I was paired against a player out of Tennessee using a Fighting/Big Basics deck, and I want to give the guy props for being arguably the fastest player I've ever seen. Fortunately for me, this led to him making an oversight: he overlooked the fact that I countered his Fighting Stadium with Sky Field, and it left him 10 HP shy of a KO on my Yveltal-EX. I was favored to win anyways; the matchup is good for me. He mentioned previously his loss was to Yveltal. That oversight pretty much made quick work of Game 1.

Game 2, he gets an extremely poor start and I am able to get a good start and effectively close out the game in the first few turns. Especially with the Raichus in the build, if it gets ahead in a game, it is very difficult to lose with the deck.


Round 4 versus LandyBats: WIN (2-0)

This matchup actually proved to be pretty difficult! I didn't have the ability to OHKO a Landorus-EX due to Resistance, and that made AZ and Super Scoop Up extremely difficult to overcome. I got fortunate Game 1 because of a few questionable choices by my opponent, who was a bit too happy to be using his Scoops on his Crobats over healing his attackers, which would have been more troublesome. My AZ did a lot of work Game 1, where it saved a heavily damaged Yveltal-EX on my Bench, and really undid a lot of work those extra Crobat uses did for him.

Game 2, I hit a Ghetsis, which was backbreaking, and took a very quick game as a result of it. Game 1 went really long and I was prepared to take Game 2 to time, but didn't end up needing to.


Round 5 versus Accelgor/Dusknoir: WIN (2-0)

This was an embarrassing round. This was the round where being tired caught up to me. This matchup is really easy for my deck...almost an autowin. (The Switches proved to be better than Float Stone here, as they allowed me to get out of Paralysis when he Lysandre'd up my Keldeo-EX). Between Keldeo-EX/Darkrai, Hex Maniac/Switches, and AZ, things have to go pretty wrong for me to lose this matchup. We were both tired, and at one point, I tried to Shaymin with his Wobbuffet Active. We both catch it before I see any cards, and I show the Lysandre in my hand, and he says I can play it first, which was greatly appreciated, and certainly not expected. I don't feel as bad about it since he wound up doing the exact same thing against me a few turns later, and I let him take it back as well.

We both decide to take a breather and compose ourselves and slow it down, and the rest of the game goes without incident. Game 1 is actually somewhat close because I catch some pretty sketchy midgame draws, but an AZ breaks it open. (Jirachi was huge in this matchup being able to reliably get Hex Maniac or AZ. Hoopa-EX getting Darkrai/Keldeo/Jirachi was just super strong too.) Game 1, I kind of felt my way through the matchup, and once I figured that out, Game 2 went a lot smoother. Not only did we both play tighter, but I had a good idea of what was important for the matchup. I had the chance to counter his Tropical Beach near the end game, but I felt that the only way I was losing was if I got N'd to a dead hand, so I'd rather be able to keep the Stadium in play to draw out of it, even though there were a few lucrative Sky Field plays. 


Round 6 versus Seismitoad/Giratina: WIN (2-0)

I got paired against a woman whose son had just aged up into Seniors, who was joking about how this was by far the best she'd done in a tournament thus far. Still, she was on a powerful deck, although one I felt pretty comfortable with being able to beat.

Game 1, I bought a lot of time using Yveltal, setting up Toad KOs, and looping between Shaymin-EX because I drew pretty awkwardly. She held back a lot of her Item cards, more cautiously than I would have, and this game me a massive midgame Ghetsis to really blow the game wide open. She was forced to go with Giratina-EX, which is always a disaster, because this let me go off with Dark Patch and light it up with Yveltal-EX for my last two Prizes.

The second game, she missed her turn-one Quaking Punch, and I'm able to really get a powerful setup in play. I draw my Battle Compressor and dump a bunch of Darkness Energy to the discard pile and start using Oblivion Wing to get built up. I get the KO on the first Seismitoad-EX and she has two Shaymin-EX Benched. This made two-hitting another Seismitoad-EX pretty easy, and then Lysandre got me the last two off of a Shaymin-EX for the match win.


Round 7 versus Seismitoad/Crobat: DRAW

I get paired vs my friend Chris Nugent...well, its weird. He is a part of a Pokémon community I've been a part of for about a decade now, and someone I've had passing interactions with, so its nice to be able to get a chance to play him and get a chance to chat this weekend!

This matchup seems difficult in my head, for the same reasons LandyBats was with Super Scoop Ups. Game 1, I get a really slow start and Chris gets multiple Zubat in play and a Muscle Banded Toad. My second turn isn't much better, and on my third turn, I concede for time purposes. I suspected this matchup goes very long, and even if I could have dug my way out of the first game, if I lose the game in any prolonged sense, I'm not winning two in a row. This way, I could maybe get two wins, and if I won Game 2, I feel like I could force a draw out of Game 3 pretty reasonably. I feel like in a Game 3, it is much easier for me to win than it is for him to, while it seems pretty easy for me to force the draw.

Game 2 I get another awful start, but obviously have to stick it out. I catch a midgame Sycamore that gives me a really good hand, and I'm able to make a comeback. He misses two key Super Scoop Up flips that allow me to hit an AZ to make a huge comeback. By this point into the day, I was exhausted, and all I remember is thinking how I stood no chance this game, and somehow managed to dodge a bunch of bullets that allowed me a chance to win with a Lysandre KO on a Shaymin-EX when he was out of SSUs, racing his use of Crobat to snipe my benched Yveltal-EX with damage on it.

I offer a draw for Game 3, which we debate, as there was not much time left; Game 2 went very long. We settle against it, but when we both get strong first turns, we decide to just ID the round after all.


Round 8 versus Tool Drop: DRAW

This matchup seemed...terrifying to me. I more or less told off my friend for suggesting I run a Tool Scrapper for this matchup. Karma, etc. Game 1, I manage to keep up, and use Hex Maniac to force him to dump Tools off of his Sigilyphs over the span of the game. This game was extremely close, and my draw was very good overall, which didn't make me feel too good about the matchup as a whole. He Ns me, and I have to hit a Lysandre for the game, which I do, the turn before he'd kill me.

Game 2, I Ghetsis him, and see a dead hand. I have a turn-two KO with Yveltal-EX, and can either Evil Ball, leaving three Energy on Yveltal, or Y Cyclone to the Bench. The catch was, I lacked an Energy in my hand for the following turn, and had no good Supporter for the next turn. I end up Evil Balling, as he would have to topdeck a draw card the next turn and go off to punish me. Obviously he draws Shaymin, into Sycamore, into a second Shaymin, and gets the OHKO on Yveltal-EX. Gross.

I reestablish control, and stick an N where he has to draw a Dimension Valley, Lysandre and an Energy, which again, he obviously hits, forcing a Game 3, which leads to my second draw, preventing my Round 9 ID plan. This was a very frustrating draw, especially after how long this tournament had already taken. I can't be that aggravated here, though, because I feel like if we played the matchup out a lot over and over, it would definitely favor him.


Round 9 versus Seismitoad/Crobat: WIN (2-0)

Yay, the matchup I drew against earlier, that felt like I should have 0-2'd against! Luckily, I get a pretty good start Game 1, and I learned a lot about the matchup from the first game. I'm able to to threaten set up KOs using Yveltal, while offsetting Lasers with a Keldeo-EX. Game 1 ends up being really grindy, and I end up with a fairly comfortable win.

Game 2, my opponent dead draws, and I stick two Muscle Band onto a pair of Pikachu on my first turn. When I'm able to get that setup in before the first Quaking Punch, I feel really good about the matchup as a whole. By the time he draws out of his terrible hand, I'm at two prizes with a full board in play, and don't actually lose my win-and-in for once!


The good news with this is that the draw versus Tool Drop became irrelevent, as I'd have tried to ID the next round and assuming it worked, wound up with the same amount of points going into Day 2. So it wasn't like I missed out on those two potential points at all.

The standings go up, and I wind up in 17th Seed, out of 453 players, and make day 2. James Richards loses his maybe-win-and-in (he was 5-2-1 going into the last round) and Cook wins his maybe-win-and-in (also 5-2-1 going into the last round) and actually concedes to his opponent, who they determined had far better tiebreakers than him, hoping that he'd make it into Top 32. He did not, but Cook's breakers would have also missed.

I wind up getting about five hours of sleep before waking up at 7 AM to make it to the tournament for Top 32. (Might I suggest, if for whatever reason a tournament goes to 12:30 at night, maybe delay the 8 AM start time of Day 2 for everybody involved?)

Round 10 versus Manectric/Leafeon: LOSS (1-2)

This played out very much like my Round 2 loss to Gansman, where he wins the die roll, and just obliterates my really terrible start. Game 2, I get a really good start, and win a narrow one. Game 3, I also get more or less a dead draw, and he gets turn-two Turbo Bolt, and I quickly concede.


Round 11 versus Seismitoad/Crobat: WIN (2-0)

My opponent here had a Torchic coin, and I'd sat next to him playing previously where an opponent had asked him to roll a die instead. He wins the coin flip, and proceeds to hit 11/12 flips over the course of the game. After the first eight flips, all with Torchic, I ask him to use a die, which he had no problem doing...and proceeded to hit most of his flips anyways. Despite hitting pretty much every flip in the book, I end up still winning this game fairly comfortably...and I have no idea how. I feel like they end up burning a lot of resources early and I can use Shaymin-EX and Yveltal to apply my early pressure. Keldeo-EX and Darkrai negating the strength of Lasers is helpful to gimp their damage as well.

Game 2, with his dice, his flips are much closer to average, and he gets a pretty subpar start, allowing me to get ahead in the matchup. I don't remember much of this game either, just that that it went fairly uneventfully and I got the match 2-0. The first game stood out so much that whatever happened in the second seemed lackluster by comparison.


Round 12 versus Ben Sauk with Vespiquen: LOSS (0-2)

This was my first time ever playing Ben in a tournament despite seeing him at many events over the years. I was...excited? to get a chance to finally play against Vespiquen. I wasn't putting much stock in my chances for Day 2, due to a fairly lackluster record going in, and because I felt the metagame was pretty hostile towards my deck. I lose the roll-off with Ben, and wind up with a pretty nice turn know, I put a Darkness Energy on my active Yveltal, and draw Sycamore, three Dark Patch, a Computer Search, and two other cards off my Sycamore. I Computer Search for a Battle Compressor and get a turn-one KO with Y Cyclone. Unfortunately, he gets the turn-two KO with a Flareon off a good second turn, and I quickly get dispatched from there, as I'm unable to see Pikachu early enough.

Game 2, I see a Pikachu and try to make a go of things, but Ben also gets a really strong start and I'm unable to keep up with the exchange. Not only was the match pretty noncompetitive, but it left a pretty poor taste in my mouth about the matchup. It could have been closer if my draws were better or his were slightly worse, but I didn't like my odds in future situations.


Round 13 versus ???: WIN (2-0)

This matchup is a total blank to me, unfortunately. The more I try and think what it was, the more I think it was Seismitoad/Giratina. I remember 2-0'ing this matchup, and I kind of remember playing versus a ton of Toad overall on the weekend, so it would make sense.


Round 14 versus Jay Lesage with Vileplume/Regice: WIN (2-0)

The last time I played Jay was...States, maybe Regionals, years ago. I was using RayEels, and I got a pretty nutty start to win that match. Jay is a great player, and we tried to decide if 27 points would get us into Top 16, as we were both dead for Top 8 by this point, even at 26 points due to how many players we had. We decide maybe we could get into Top 16 with a draw but not safely enough to actually pull the trigger on it.

He wins the coin flip, and gets a turn-one Vileplume. I have good enough draws to start powering out non-EX Yveltal, keeping his Regice in check. Hes forced to burn off a lot of Energy with Sycamores and Retreats, and I'm able to set up with Raichu. We get into a bit of an arms race, where he "sacrifices" a Vileplume. I noted he had burned all four AZ and had used all of his DCE, so I got his Plume to 120 damage, then just let it sit there, as he had very few cards left and couldn't get the Plume to his Bench ever. He concedes.

Game 1 had been a long one, so I just needed to make sure Game 2 didn't finish. With how slow the damage output is from his deck, this didn't seem hard. He again gets turn-one Vileplume, but I decide to go with the "Shaymin Loop" route, as his deck capped at 100 damage a turn and he'd used two N already. He tried to break up the loop with Paralysis flips, but Keldeo-EX/Darkrai-EX prevented that from happening. At one point, he N'd the Shaymin loop away, but I could safely soak up hits on the rest of my high-HP Benched Pokémon until I reassembled, as he only ran two Lysandre. I had enough built up in play where I could probably just win off of Raichu and Yveltal, but I didn't need to win. I just needed to prolong the game. He eventually ran out of N and Lysandre entirely and I established the full lock for the match and a Top 16 lock.

Standings go up, and I end up in 12th Place out of 453 players, well beyond my expectations going into the middle of Day 1. I feel I could have aimed higher, but my deck was ill-positioned, so you have to adjust expections for that.

12th Place, 45/300(?) Championship Points

So what do I take from this event? First off, I feel like I played extremely poorly the whole weekend. Part of it was from being tired, especially seeing how the event ran so late. Running on two hours of sleep meant an event that didn't finish up until 12:30 AM wound up being really disastrous. To top it off, we were given a half-hour lunch break...meaning, effectively no lunch break. There is no real way to get food and eat it within half an hour at these type of events. Everyone leaves at the same time, and the lines at the minimal number of restaurants within reasonable distance get out of hand. As a result, most people can't get food, and all that happens is the tournament takes another thirty minutes longer. As a result, I didn't have anything to eat all Saturday, and the event ended so late I wasn't able to get anything to eat after the fact either.

There was an over-hour wait after Round 7, due to technical difficulties, which could have easily been used as a dinner break for players, but instead we got to sit around, uninformed over what was happening, wasting our time. I understand that technical difficulties happen, and that isn't always the fault of those running the event. How they are handled afterwards, on the other hand, is. On top of this, the pairings each round were a disaster. "Online pairings" didn't work. The site used kept crashing, and the internet in the venue was terrible. This led to everyone having to rush to the paper pairings, which were perched in a corner, making them particularly difficult to get to. People came from multiple directions, making getting to and from them very slow. Rather than post them in multiple places about the venue to help offset this, we went through the whole tournament, round after round, letting this congestion slow down the event as it took forever to get people seated for the start of each round.

Beyond the exhausting length of the event, I just felt a bit off of my game. I've had plenty of tournaments with little or no sleep and never really noticed any negative implications from it. I feel like it affected me some this time, though. I was fortunate: my loss in Round 2 to Mega Manectric was unavoidable. I don't think that tighter play could have won me either Game 1 or Game 3. The draws against Tool Drop and Seismitoad/Crobat Day 1 were likely unavoidable as well. I feel like all I did was make my wins much closer than they needed to be, which is frustrating. I'm sure part of it was learning my deck since I went in with it cold, but some of the mistakes I was making went beyond that, and I don't want to make excuses for myself either.

I can't really complain about my placing: Top 16 is well within the range of a finish I'm proud of, especially in a field of over 450 Masters. I picked an archetype that was really well positioned for Week 1, and actually pretty poorly positioned for Week 2 due to the popularity of Vespiquen and Mega Manectric. Had I expected those two decks to be popular, I'd have used something diferent.

First off, if I wanted to update this deck, I'd want to make sure it has a better game against Mega Manectric. I actually won both games I got to play first, but every time I was going second felt like a bloodbath. Rough Seas was a nightmare for the deck oddly, as it broke up most of my attempts at two hitting a Mega Manectric. Raichu allowed me to OHKO other Pokémon-EX to take Prizes, and the winning line usually involved taking four Prizes off non-Mega Manectric/Shaymin/Hoopa-EX and then two-hitting a Mega Manny.

The best card in the matchup was Darkrai-EX, by miles, and I made the mistake of only running a lone copy. I went with three Yveltal-EX, and made two oversights. First, with Yveltal doing so well at Week 1 Regionals decks were prepared for the card. Second, without Hypnotoxic Laser, the card's damage output is fairly underwhelming. It is still awesome, and really worth playing of course, it just doesn't warrant three copies of itself. I should have run a second Darkrai-EX over it.

Besides this change, I also want to run an Absol ROS. Absol was the last cut from the deck that I made, and I really regretted not having it. The card is instrumental in beating Mega Manectric. Night Spear puts 30 damage on the field, which can be moved to a Mega Manectric, allowing Raichu to "OHKO" them. This really changes how the matchup plays out and in my opinion with those two fixes, the matchup nears 50-50. They key is being able to put the 30 onto a non-Lightning Pokémon, as Rough Seas removes it otherwise.

I lost to Ben's Vespiquen deck, but I felt like I also got a bit unlucky. Ben needed a really good turn to OHKO my Yveltal-EX in Game 1 and if I got past that turn, I probably win that game. I never got the type of draws that allowed me to get quick Raichu, which I feel is necessary to win that exchange. On the play, the matchup doesn't seem too bad, but going second, I really needed to have a very strong hand to win. There aren't really a lot of adjustments that I can make to help this matchup much, unfortunately. My friend Joe ran a 4-3 Raichu line, and I could see that helping a little bit, just to increase the deck's reliability of getting out fast Raichus.

That said, I'm not positive that I want to be playing this archetype again. It isn't bad, but I was mainly picking the deck because I felt that it would prey on the metagame, and that metagame has evolved. The deck is still good, and probably my favorite Yveltal varient still, so if that is your deck, by all means stay with it, but I feel like there are better options.

The first route I like taking involves using Fighting-type Pokémon. This obviously gives you an edge over Manectric builds. Focus Sash is great against Vespiquen, and Night March (a deck I feel has the edge over Vespiquen due to being a turn faster, so it could show up in greater numbers) and likely makes you a favorite over these type of non-EX OHKO decks. (For those using these decks, I'd advise a Tool Scrapper or Xerosic to get the jump on this influx. From who I've talked to, I'm not the only one whose looked into this type of strategy.)

The decks I'm looking at right now, for Fighting decks, are Donphan, Josue "Criminal" Rojano's Machamp/Big Basics deck, and LandyBats. All of these decks more or less had two universally bad matchups: Blastoise and Seismitoad-EX decks. (It makes sense, since they rely on Water-Weak Pokémon as their primary attackers, of course.) Both Manectric and Vespiquen are good against Seismitoad decks, and to me, are major deterents from wanting to play Toad. People will always play the deck, but I feel as if it gets less and less well-positioned by the week. Blastoise is pretty poor against Vespiquen, and saw very little play in Philly. It did place a player into Top 16, but I think that may have been the lone copy in Top 32. Yveltal somewhat keeps the deck in check as well, and even if it isn't the best-positioned, it is still a safe and sure to be popular play, which will keep Blastoise in check some. This means that we should see an influx of decks weak to these Fighting decks, and a decrease in their bad matchups.

The one Donphan idea I've seen thrown around is to pair it with Eeveelutions. Jolton helps keep Yveltal decks in check, and Flareon makes sure you beat Vespiquen. Leafeon give you a bit of help versus both Blastoise and Seismitoad-EX. I've tried to throw a rough list together for this, but it really is a giant mess. There are so many cards to add, and its really difficult. Being sick, I haven't really had enough time to get a list I like. If you want to take a crack at it, by all means go for it. It seems great at the moment, but I'm so far off a 60 I feel confident in that I'd be doing a disservice even posting one.

Regarding Crim's deck, I've included it multiple times in past articles. Not a whole lot has changed in it, to be honest. I'd consider not running the Archeops, as odd as that is, because Hex Maniac keeps it in check, plus decks really weak to the card have started adding Wobbuffet as a means to break up the lock and Evolve past it. It's almost a free inclusion in the deck, but it just bad. Maybe I overestimate the level of preparedness out of the average player, though.

The deck I am most interested in is LandyBats. It is probably the best, most over-the-top approach to beating Vespiquen and Night March. It also has the benefit of being the best against the other Fighting decks in case they do end up being popular. The extra damage, plus the use of Super Scoop Ups give you a big edge. That and the fact that the Crobat line makes for a functional resistant attacker as well. I mentioned in past articles how much I liked how the deck played at Nationals, despite it falling to Wailord for me in my win and in. Of the three, I feel like it is the "best deck" of the three in a vacuum.

Here is the list I'm currently working with.

I ran a 4-3-3 Crobat line at Nationals, and wanted the fourth Golbat the whole tournament. I've also finally made the switch over to Scoop Up Cyclone over Computer Search. I'd like to run a third Focus Sash, but I think a pair will suffice. At Nationals, I was nervous about only running nine Energy cards, but with the justification of this choice being "less Toad," I'm accepting that's rough anyways and don't want to chase that matchup by adding more Energy cards.

Another deck I was looking at it a rather unorthodox take on the Archie's Blastoise deck. I've opted to run a thick Articuno line, paired with a "Fliptini". This means that all of those 100 HP Stage 1 Pokémon have a 75% chance of being OHKO'd for two Prizes each turn. The plan here is to use all non-EX attackers in the Vespiquen and Night March matchups. Between the Articuno plan, coupled with late-game EX kills, I feel like those matchups can be made favorable.

I've mentioned the "Black Kyurem EX with one Lightning Energy" plan to help in the Yveltal matchup, and I've decided to include that package in here as well. (I did mention it was unorthodox!) Finally, I'm running a Xerosic, for it stops Focus Sash, but also turns off Garbotoxin in the Mega Manectric, builds allowing you to Deluge. Here is the rough list I have for this build.

I'd really like a third Acro Bike for the engine, or at least one type of Switching card, but they are a bit hard to fit. I could trim down to one Lysandre, and potentially cut one of the Pokémon, or a Super Rod. I like the Super Rod because with the lowered Water Energy count and spread out Pokemon line.

Finally, I just want to stress how enjoyable Expanded has been so far! I felt all of my matchups at Regionals were pretty dynamic and interactive. Almost all of the decks are pretty fun, and the field is clearly wide open. Even after establishing a set of "best decks" after the first week, the format continues to evolve. I look forward to playing more of the format, and hope I snap out of this cold in time to be able to make it to Fort Wayne. I actually am dreading having to play Standard now, after how great this experience has been. I'm going to finally lay down and get some rest, and try and kick this cold. Good luck to everyone (myself included if I make it!) playing at a Regionals this weekend!

-Chris Fulop

[+16] okko


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