Experts' corner

Gabriel Semedo

Power Couple! How my GF and I dominated São Paulo Regionals

In this article Gabriel talks about his top4 and his girlfriend Nathália Fernandes 1st place at Sao Paulo Regionals with unique decklists.

05/20/2017 by Gabriel Semedo

Hello readers!

I know that the XY-SUM format has come to an end, but I would like to close this format with my last piece of text before starting to talk about Sun and Moon 2. Not long ago São Paulo, Brazil Regionals took place and had about 200 players. I managed to get Top4 with Yveltal / Garbodor / Umbreon GX and my girlfriend, Nathália Fernandes, ended up winning the entire tournament with Flareon EX / Dragons. Our deck choices and the way our decks were built have had a lot of stin-depth analysis of the game and I really want to tell you how it's done. I always like to tell 60 cardsabout  my creative processes and how I come to my final decisions for a tournament because I believe I can help you reader to develop your own ideas and decision-making. Many victories in Pokémon TCG are decided way before even sitting at the table to play and I believe that my success of Nathalia’s success in this Regionals was due to this. Our deck choices and deck construction were very accurate and this allowed us to be able to surprise the metagame of the tournament and be able to stand out among the field, even though we were not properly trained to win a big tournament like this. Now without further addue let's go to our story today. 

Deck choices

My deck choice - Yveltal / Garbodor / Umbreon GX

After my poor performance at Latin America Internationasl, I decided to overcome my failure and Sao Paulo Regionals was a chance to redeem myself. The tournament happened only two weeks after the Internationals, meaning there is not much time to create anything. It turns out that recently I changed jobs and this new job has taken a lot more time than my previous job. If you haven’t noticed it has been more than 1 month that I do not write anything here at 60cards. So at the end of the day I had very little time to practice. Fortunately, a week before the Regional, we had a holiday in Brazil, with 1 League Cup and 2 League Challenge to be played, so I decided that I would use these tournaments as my practice for the Regionals. According to my prediction of the metagame, I wanted a deck that could play at least 50/50 against Decidueye and could play well against the rest of the metagame, including M-Rayquaza, a deck that was getting a lot attention in metagame.

For the League Cup I chose to play M-Mewtwo EX / Garbodor, with a neat decklist, with only 4-3 M-Mewtwo, 2-1 Garbodor, no Hex Maniac and no Wobbufet. The M-Mewtwo EX deck is very powerful and can go straight to the point, but in my opinion it only works if you keep your decklist as lean as possible. If you play stuff like Hex Maniac, Wobbufet, 1-1 Espeon GX and other techs, the deck will start to lose to itself.

In the tournament I tied against two Decidueye decks in swiss, then I entered the top8 and I proceeded to lose to Gustavo Wada, using DeciPlume with Regice. In short, the deck was not winning Decidueye, unless I played 4 Float Stone, 2-2 Garbodor and 1 or 2 Hex Maniac. Unfortunately I do not see the M-Mewtwo EX deck with room for all these things, so I decided to leave the deck aside.

The next day I played a League Challenge and chose the Volcanion EX deck. The differential of my list is due to the absence of Hoopa EX and the inclusion of a line of 1-1 Starmie, 2 copies of Dive Ball and 3 Scorched Earth. I noticed that the format had few Garbodor decks, hence, there were tons of ability-based decks playing. Moreover, Decidueye could overcome Volcanion EX because of the lack of resources of the deck. Starmie EVO plays well against item lock, as it discards useless cards from the hand and still recycles basic energies to be able to reuse them with Scorched Earth and Steam Up. In the end I ended up winning the League Challenge, but realized that I could not win the way I would like the DeciPlume deck with Regice. Although I really liked the deck, I preferred to try my last option.

On the last day of my holiday I decided to try the Yveltal EX / Garbodor. In my head Yveltal / Garbodor was a weaker version of M-Mewtwo EX / Garbodor, however with much more space to put in techs, which is what I was looking for. The main difference of this list are the 1 Taurus GX, 1 Ninja Boy, 1 Psychic Energy, Pokémon Ranger and 1 Wobbuffet. In the end I ended up losing the League Challenge "final" for a Deciplume with Jolteon EX and Regice. Although I only got 4th place in the League Challenge, I was happy because I had found the best way to beat Deciplume with Jolteon EX. It was not Pokémon Ranger, neither Taurus GX + NinjaBoy nor Wobbufet, but Umbreon GX and energy removal. The Pokémon Ranger is difficult to find and use at the right time, especially under the effect of item lock, so I thought Umbreon GX could be used as an alternative form for the Pokémon Ranger, since it is able to deal damage in both the Jolteon EX And Regice. Also, its GX attack is incredible against Deciplume and can give me victory in many cases. To support  Umbreon GX, I put in a Team Flare Grunt and an Enhanced Hammer, which proved to be awesome for this matchup. Best of all, Umbreon GX, Enhanced Hammer and Team Flare Grunt have proven to be very good against virtually every decking in the format, with the exception of Enhanced Hammer, which only works for decks with special energies. Two days before the Regionals, I managed to find 2 hours of my day to see if the deck was playing well, and to my happiness, I managed to win Deciplume thanks to my new techs.

Nathália’s deck choice – Flareon EX/Dragons

While studying the Volcanion EX deck, I remembered Flareon EX and how good it is against Deciplume. Its Ability is very good to power up itself fast even under item lock and it can knock out a Decidueye GX without problems and can still attack consecutively every turn, something that Volcanion EX can’t – it either needs to retreat or needs Pokémon Ranger to the rescue. So I started thinking about decks with Flareon EX and I remembered the Turbo Giratina EX, which was used years ago, where the Flareon EX could get in the deck  to move energies and benefit from the energy acceleration of Reshiram.

This concept had already made me very excited, so I decided to revisit the Flareon EX / Dragons deck. Coincidentally, the metagame discovered how Salamence EX is still amazing in the format. Here in Brazil it is possible to see many decks of Volcanion EX with Salamence, the return of Darktina with Salamence, M-Rayquaza with Salamence and even Deciplume decks with Rainbow Energy and Salamence. Salamence is still incredible, but on a Dragon based deck it is much more incredible because he can attack in T1 without difficulty, it can retreat for free thanks to Hydreigon EX and it has the option to use 3 fire energies Or 1 fire energy and a DDE. Finally, we have Giratina EX, which is one of the best M-Rayquaza counters of the format. On the Dragon Deck, Giratina EX gains a lot of strength as it becomes fast and very easy to energize. It proved to be a great attacker in many situations. Although I had all this concept in mind, I did not have time to set up this deck and test it enough for the regional one, it was less than a week before the tournament and I had a week full of things to do at work.

During the League Challenge, I chatted with some friends, Douglas Topeira Rodrigues and Rafael Yuiti about the deck, but they said that unfortunately there would not be enough time to have the deck ready for theRegionals. Nathalia would end up using her Turbo Darkrai deck again, but without much hope, since she was very busy with college and had no time to practice. One day prior to Regionals, Douglas Topeira  sends me a message saying "Rafael and I have tested your idea and it works very well, we will use it in the tournament". I did not think anyone would put my idea on a sleeve and test, so I figured I'd never get a chance to see my Flareon EX / Dragons playing. I did not want to change my Yveltal / Umbreon / Garbodor so close to the tournament because I liked the deck and was enjoying its performance, but Natalia was very unsatisfied with her deck, losing a lot to Deciplume and M-Rayquaza.

I decided it would not be me who would use Flareon / Dragons, but my girlfriend Nathalia. I answered Douglas Topeira's message saying that I would like to talk to Douglas and Rafael to test and improve the deck and said that Nathália was willing to use the deck in the Regionals, which would happen on the following day. On Friday night we practiced a lot with the deck and it  was incredible. It won by a  good margin the matches that we would like to win in the tournament tomorrow. We were certain tnat Nathalia would go for Flareon EX / Dragons and leave her good old Darkrai aside.

My matchups:

R1 – M-Rayquaza [LL] 0-1-0

R2 – Turbo Darkrai [LWW] 1-1-0

R3 – Volcanion [WW] 2-1-0

R4 – Decidueye / Vileplume [WLW] 3-1-0

R5 – Decidueye/ Vileplume / Regice EX [LWW] 4-1-0

R6 – Yveltal / Garbodor [WW] 5-1-0

R7 – M-Rayquaza [WW] – 6-1-0

R8 – Decidueye / Vileplume [ID] 6-1-1

TOP 8 – Rainbow Road [W]

TOP 4 – Flareon / Dragons [SCOOP]

Nathália’s matchups:

R1 : Volcanion [LWT] 0-0-1

R2 : Decidueye [WW] 1-0-1

R3 : MegaMewteo [WW] 2-0-1

R4 : Lunala/Solgaleo [LL] 2-1-1

R5 : WaterBox [LWW] 3-1-1

R6 : Speed Darkrai [WW] 4-1-1

R7 : MRayquaza [WW] 5-1-1

R8 : Flareon/Dragons [WW] 6-1-1                        

Top8: MegaRayquaza [WW]

Top4: Yvetal [WO]

Final: MegaRayquaza [WW]

My tournament started badly, with a defeat in a good match for me. In the second round I start with a loss and I see myself being eliminated from the tournament as two defeats in a 210-person tournament with a cut to top 8 meant elimination. But I managed to recover and turned the game to 2x1. After that I did not lose any more. I had 6 consecutive wins until my ID in the final round. Nathália had a campaign similar to mine, with a draw at the start and a defeat in the middle of the tournament, being forced to win four consecutive games to qualify. With so many players and only 8 places on the top, there would be a player with the 6-1-1 score that would not make to the top 8. Fortunately it was neither of us.

The pairing took a shape that if I and Nathalia won our top 8 games, we would face each other in the top4. As we knew that one of the finalists would be an M-Rayquaza EX, we decided that Flareon / Dragons would be the right deck to go to the final of the tournament, since the match is very good thanks to the Chaos Wheel of Giratina EX and still has the Salamence EX To support if needed. Then in the top4 I granted the win to Nathalia so she could go to the finals. The final match took place exactly as we hoped, Nathalia managed Chaos Wheel early in the first rounds in both games and her opponent was unable to develop their game. It is worth remembering that the opponent used 1-1 Gumshoos GX, which is extremely dangerous for Giratina EX because Gumshoos knocks out Giratina EX in 1 hit with its GX attack, which needs only one basic energy. It's a great tech, but fortunately the opponent was unable to make Gumshoos in either match  and when Yungoos appeared on the bench, Nathalia was able to use Lysandre and knock out it with Chaos Wheel.

After all ourthis journey, I will finish this article by explaining a little more about the Flareon / Dragons deck and its impact on the metagame. I would like to mention that this list was also built by players Douglas Rodrigues, Rafael Yuiti and Nathália Fernandes, and without the help of each one of them the list would not have arrived at this result.

3 Reshiram ROS

Best starter of the deck and key piece to make the dragons or even Flareon EX hit as soon as T1. The ideal  scenario is to have 2 Reshiram on board, because it is possible to use two Abilities in the same turn, without being dependent on Max Elixir. In addition, it is a good non-EX striker, his attack hits 110, which is enough to knock out Shaymin EX in 1 hit or knock out any other EX or Mega in 2 hits.


2 Salamence EX

As said before on this deck the Salamence EX has the maximum of its potential. It can attack fast, retreat for free, it is consistent and easy to energize and can still use its second attack called Dragon Strike, which hits for 130 (and then you cannot use Dragon Strike on the next turn). Its second attack is strong and useful when the opponent has almost no Pokémon EX on the field. Decks like Turbo Darkrai EX, Yveltal / Garbodor, Volcanion EX, M-Mewtwo EX, M-Rayquaza EX suffer greatly because of the Salamence EX.


2 Giratina EX

It was not the plan to use this deck because of Giratina EX, but it surprised me a lot. Its Chaos Wheel attack was very easy and quick to use thanks to Reshiram ROS, and this fact has aroused our interest. Games against the Mega Pokémon decks and against Darkrai EX, Yveltal, Decidueye and Volcanion EX are completely winnable only because of the damage that Chaos Wheel causes. Especially against Decidueye, Chaos Wheel just in the first round will probably mean a victory, since the opponent cannot use Float Stone, nor attach Rainbow and Double Colorless let alone put down Forest of Giant Plants to speed up their setup. 

1 Flareon EX

The idea was to use two copies of Flareon EX because of the match against Decidueye, but then I realize that Giratina EX could be more impactful than the Flareon EX. Still it is important to have Flareon EX in the deck, because it is a Pokémon that does not need any effort to energize. Flareon EX can show up at the end of the game and get the energies scattered on the board to energize itself, or surprise the opponent in the first few turns with the help of Max Elixir and Reshiram ROS. Also Flareon EX is able to one-hit KO Decidueye, something that few Pokémon can do in the metagame.

2 Hydreigon EX

It lets our Dragon Pokémon retreat for free and also can work as a permanent Pokémon Ranger, since its attack goes through Jolteon EX and Regice.

1 Oranguru

Since the deck can be really fast at taking prizes, it can suffer from a late game N. Oranguru fixes this problem.

2 Shaymin EX

A 3rd Shaymin would be quite interesting, but list is pretty tight and there was no room for it.

4 Professor Sycamore / 2 N / 1 Professor Kukui / 4 Vs Seeker / 3 Trainers Mail / 4 Ultra Ball

Nothing out of extraordinary in this. The thing that stands out the most is the Professor Kukui that can fix some flaws of the deck, damage wise. For example, Giratina EX can 2-hit KO a Decidueye if you have Fighting Fury Belt and play a single Professor Kukui.

2 Max Elixir

It seems strange to use only 2 Max Elixir, but the extra energies from Reshiram ROS won’t always be enough. Sometimes you will need an extra boost to complete that Chaos Wheel on T1 or T2 or to attach onto Salamence or Flareon EX at the end of the game, after using the Super Rod to return energies to the deck. Hoopa EX, Sky Field and Trainers Mail speed up the deck very early, hence your deck and hand gets smaller and smaller. Four copies is overkill and unnecessary and playing without Max Elixir does not make the deck fast and consistent enough the way we wanted. Oddly enough, 2 copies were perfect. 

2 Float Stone / 2 Escape Rope

It was where we had the biggest doubts to adjust the ideal number. We tested various combinations, as well cards like Olympia and Switch, but in the end we came up with that result. Hydreigon EX will ensure a good portion of the deck retreatinf, which means that Escape Rope and Float Stone are not always needed. Escape Rope has an unusual effect and the Switch only fulfills the function of the retreating. Since we already are able to free retreat, either by Hydreigon EX or Float Stone, we decided to use two Escape Rope, to explore the side effect of this card, which is to bring something from the opponent's bench to active. Float Stone is for Hoopa EX and Oranguru, as well as being essential in games where Garbodor is activated.

2 Fighting Fury Belt

At first we wanted 3 copies, but eventually 2 copies proved to be enough for the job. 

3 Sky Field

It is not as needed as it is in decks likeM Rayquaza. We needed it once to get our setup going, and after that we were good to go. It essentially becomes a counter stadium to our opponent’s stadiums.

1 Parallel City

It can be clutch many times, especially when we are able to get Chaos Wheel online.

9 Fire Energy / 4 DDE

Ten fire energies would be ideal, but due to space we cut it down to 9 and surprisingly it’s been working well.


It's strange to see decks with different ideas and assemblies surprising just in the last tournament of the format before the arrival of SM2. The normal thing would be to see decks well-built and consolidated in the metagame. The lesson is that there is always room for innovation and surprise for your opponents in the Pokémon TCG, especially at this time where there are a lot of legal collections to be able to create from. Cards like Reshiram ROS, Flareon EX and Hydreigon EX were completely forgotten on the metagame, just as players were not expecting a 1-1 Umbreon GX line on Yveltal's deck. It is always good to keep in mind decks that had already been good in the past or cards with great potential, sometimes all these decks or cards need is an opportunity to reappear. Look closely for the changes in the metagame, try to observe where the metagame is going and surprise the opponents with an idea they are not expecting.

I hope you liked it and I see you next time!

[+10] okko


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