Experts' corner

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Gabriel Semedo

The Rise of Entei

In this short article Gabriel Semedo talk about the deck he is testing now, Entei/Volcanion-EX, why this deck is strong now, and why this deck could be a good choice for Worlds.

08/02/2016 by Gabriel Semedo

Hello, 60cards readers! Today I will show you guys a deck that I'm testing right now for Worlds, Entei/Volcanion-EX. This deck had a lot of success in the XY-BREAKthrough format because it was fast, high damage deck with a good non-EX attacker which was so difficult to Knock Out. With the arrival of BREAKpoint in the format, the high number of Item-locks decks, along with new water decks like Greninja and Waterbox, kept Entei from viability. Now, after US Nationals, we saw that Greninja didn't have good results and the big star of the tournament was Night March/Vespiquen, which has a good matchup against Waterbox. Assuming Night March/Vespiquen is the deck to beat, the tendency is that Waterbox and Greninja will be less used now and Darkness decks, Trevenant, and Vileplume are will be more used. The Entei deck has a chance to win against Trevenant and Vileplume if the first turn is strong, in the way that you can have decent setup before the Item-lock. Beside this, I believe the deck has solid matchups across the board, mainly against Night March/Vespiquen.

With the arrival of Steam Siege, the deck received the support of Volcanion-EX, which changes everything. Now Entei can do what it never did well, namely taking one-hit knockouts on big Pokémon-EX. This simple factor opens up a lot of options for the deck, mainly improving the defense factor of Entei. For example, before Volcanion-EX we needed two Muscle Band to get 170, but now need just one Fighting Fury Belt or even none, in case of using two Volcanion-EX to increase damage by 60. Now we can play a bunch of Fighting Fury Belt and Assault Vest in order to improve defense and even with these Tools, hit a big number of 170 thanks to Volcanion-EX.

Summarizing the story, Volcanion-EX lets the Entei deck becomes much stronger both in attack and defense, so now Entei can hit 170 and can resist 200 in a consistent way and at the same time. Before, you had to choose between hitting 170 or resisting 200, but now you can have both and this makes all the difference in the strategy.

Entei/Volcanion-EX

Below you can check a list that I have been testing for the deck. I still have a lot of options in mind and have a lot of cards to test, but this is actually the list I've been playing:

Deck Analysis

4 Entei AOR 15

This is the main attacker of the deck and a lot of games you will attack just with Entei until the end. The first attack is very useful since you can get the damage boost from Volcanion-EX and it will let your Entei survive, because a lot of the time 30 damage less is enough to avoid a knockout. For example, now it's possible to knockout a Joltik with Fighting Fury Belt while reducing 30 damage and forcing Night March to miss the knockout next turn. Sometimes Entei will force an opponent to hit 240 damage to get the knockout if 2 FFB/Assault Vest are attached. The second attack is the main attack and thanks to Volcanion-EX, this attack will be able to OHKO a Pokémon-EX. 

2 Volcanion-EX

Volcanion-EX is the real reason Entei is better than it was. Thanks to Volcanion, it will be normal hit 170 to knockout a Pokémon-EX. It's possible to hit up to 210 damage if you use 2 Steam Ups from Volcanion-EX along with Fighting Fury Belt, enough to Knock Out big things like M Manectric-EX.

It's always good to remember that Volcanion-EX is good attacker too. Using its own Ability and a Fighting Fury Belt, it's easy to hit 170.

3 Shaymin-EX

This is a must in this deck. You need to go fast on turn 1 and your Supporter must be Blacksmith, so 3 Shaymin-EX is crucial. Because of this, it will almost be impossible for the deck to run without Shaymin-EX’s Ability, so Shaymin-EX is the biggest weakness of the deck. The deck uses 1 Parallel City and AZ to get Shaymin-EX off the board but even with them, Shaymin-EX will be the main reason behind your losses.

1 Professor Sycamore/1 N

These 2 cards are my Supporter-draw cards. It's low, but the deck uses a lot of Item/Stadium-draw cards to smooth things over. It's possible to increase the number of draw Supporters, decreasing the amount of Item-draw, but the deck will lose speed, mainly in turn 1.

1 AZ

Many lists don't run AZ and that is pretty much okay, even because all attackers can attack in turn 1, even Shaymin-EX to Sky Return, but I decided to put a copy in because I think Volcanion-EX can get stuck in Active and I hate this. AZ with Shaymin-EX in play always can function as a draw Supporter and you can use AZ to re-use Volcanion-EX’s Ability. It's a safety card and can save you in a lot of situations.

4 Blacksmith

All the strategy of the deck is based around this Supporter. Now with 4 FFB and 3 Assault Vest, Entei will last more turns in the field and, so 4 copies isn’t so necessary to do multiple Entei like was did before, but I use 4 to guarantee getting it as fast as possible.

2 Lysandre

Here we have two interesting options to consider. The first one is Pyroar with the Flare Command Ability and the second one is the real Pokémon Catcher. As I said before, the decks depends so much on Blacksmith, it's pretty normal to not find enough turns to get an Entei with Energy and then have a chance to use a Supporter like Lysandre, so this the main reason I considered Pyroar or Catcher as an option. But in the end, I decided to stick with Lysandre because it is the most economic and consistent way to get a Gust effect, and unlike Pokémon Catcher, it’s useful against Item-lock.

4 VS Seeker/4 Ultra Ball

Pretty staple cards.  

4 Fighting Fury Belt/3 Assault Vest

Like I said before, now with Volcanion-EX, I can focus on defensive Tools to keep my Entei on board attacking and that's why I think Entei could be a good and solid choice for Worlds. Hitting for 170 while resisting around 200 damage from turn 1 is pretty huge for a non-EX Pokémon. 

2 Super Scoop Up

I have problems Retreating Volcanion-EX if it gets stuck in the Active position, so I decided to put in two copies of Super Scoop Up. I could put Switch, Escape Rope or Float Stone to do a better job, but in many games, those cards get stuck in my hand without some effect, so I opted to use Scoops. With SSU I can have the Retreat effect, but If don't need to Retreat, I can use them to draw cards with Shaymin-EX or to reset Volcanion-EX to reuse its Ability or even to do strange things like using Blacksmith in on Volcanion-EX and then Scooping it to my hand to retrieve Energy (and reuse Volcanion-EX).

2 Energy Retrieval

The tendency is that Fire Energy are being used fast, whether to draw cards with Scorched Earth or to boost damage with Volcanion, so I decided to put 2 copies of Energy Retrieval to get more use from these resources. Sometimes you will feel that only two Energy Retrieval isn't quite enough, so you have to be careful with Energy.

3 Trainers’ Mail/3 Acro Bike/3 Scorched Earth

These are my draw Trainers that don't involve my Supporter for the turn. This number of non-Supporter draw cards worked for me, but it will always have problem against Item-lock.

1 Parallel City 

This is mainly to get Shaymin off your Bench.

9 Fire Energy

In this deck you always want Energy in hand, and it's possible to run 13 Energy and still miss Energy. It's a big problem for the deck, so you have to take care of your Energy. You can recycle Energy with Blacksmith and Energy Retrieval, but the Volcanion-EX Ability and Scorched Earth will burn your Energy too fast.

4 Double Colorless Energy

Entei needs a lot of these Energy to attack in turn 1 or even attack fast and consistently.

Other cards that can fit in the deck:

Startling Megaphone/Xerosic

I prefer Startling Megaphone over Xerosic because I see this in these cards the same dilemma as I see in Lysandre and Pokémon Catcher. The deck just can't withstand turns using Supporters like Lysandre or Xerosic, so Startling Megaphone can be more useful, even if you can't find the right time to use it.

Eco Arm

This card is very good in the deck and that is it. The biggest reason to not run this card is because it will be useless on turn 1 where you need the best setup in order for Entei to shine. On turn 1 Eco Arm is garbage and against Item-lock it will be worthless. In general I like this card so much but I still didn't find space for it yet.

Second N

I still want to find a slot to put one more N in, mainly against Night March, where your Shaymin-EX will be targeted easily. Using N after your Pokémon-EX get Knocked Out is the best way to keep yourself alive in the matchup. 

Energy Recycler

I know Energy Recycler returns Energy for the deck and that's why this cards isn't so good, but I still like this card because it returns 5 Energy back into the deck. In other words we are using the effect of two and a half Energy Retrieval with a single card. Those 5 Energy in the deck can be huge if you happen to have thin deck, especially if you’re trying to dig deeper with a Professor Sycamore.

Final Thoughts

Like I said in the beginning of this article, this deck is a solid choice and will play well against a lot of decks across the board, mainly against Night March/Vespiquen, which is the deck under the spotlights right now. In most cases, Entei’s first attack will be enough to get knockouts on NM and will force your opponent to get resources going in order not to miss a knockout, so the best case scenario for Night March will be knocking out things like Shaymin-EX or Volcanion-EX. To prevent this in an ideal world, you should drop as few Shaymin-EX as possible and then use Parallel City and AZ to get them off the board. Volcanion-EX plus FFB can resist a knockout from Night March. Other decks in the metagame like Yveltal/Zoroark and Metal/Genesect can be beaten easily. There is so much to be tested for Worlds, but this deck impressed me because of the huge power of Volcanion-EX. I intend to look deeper into this idea and many others. You can always find the results of all my testing here in my articles.

I hope you enjoyed and I will be back soon with more new content.

Thanks for reading!

- Gabriel

[+14] okko


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