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Caleb Gedemer

"Want to win Nationals?" — A Standard Format Collective and the Event Itself

Get ready for National Championships with this article stuffed full of decklists and interesting information to get you ready for the big day!

06/21/2016 by Caleb Gedemer

INTRODUCTION

Hello everyone, I am back at it again with another article. Today I will discussing the Standard Format and its implications for the United States National Championships in particular. Outside of the state of the game, I will also provide some tips and tricks for players with byes for the tournament as well as for the average competitor. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

DECKS TO EXPECT AND WHAT THEY ARE ALL ABOUT

Bronzong BREAK

  • This is a new deck in the mix which can be built in a variety of ways. Generally, builds choose to pick an EX or non-EX focus. My personal favorite type would be none other than the non-EX version. This type of Bronzong BREAK deck can effectively trade Prize cards with just about anything, which makes it extremely powerful and a top contender going into the National Championships.

  • Bronzong BREAK in of itself is the newest addition to the Metal deck. It boasts a powerful attack that is really good against Night March decks. You choose a number of Metal Energy to discard attached to the BREAK and then for each one discarded you choose a Pokémon that gets hit for 30 damage. This can pick off Joltik and Pumpkaboo in the Active and Benched positions. Given the right opening, a Night March player’s field could be completely decimated in one attack. The main problem with this is that a Night March player can generally predict when the ‘zong BREAK will be used and they are given ample time to Lysandre it and take a knockout.

  • Other non-EX attacks to include are Druddigon, Heatran, Lugia and Zoroark. A deck with all these Pokémon has a lot of options and can set up crafty knockouts on the board. It is not a non-EX Pokémon, but Aegislash-EX has been proving its worth lately as well. The ‘slash with a Fighting Fury Belt gets boosted to 220 HP and creates a nearly impossible situation for Night March in particular. They must not only play a Hex Maniac, but they have to find a Startling Megaphone to remove the HP boost and actually be able to take a knockout (in most cases). Aegislash-EX has use in nearly every other matchup as well. Vespiquen/Vileplume decks in many cases auto-lose to a lone Aegislash-EX.

Deck List (Top 8 at a Europeon National Championship)

Crobat/Manectric-EX

  • This deck lost any and all popularity it gained throughout City Championships during State Championships. Now one thing you may not have considered with the deck yet is adding Mew from Fates Collide. Not only does it help you maintain a more non-EX focused approach with the deck, but you can even add in Seismitoad-EX to bring a completely new twist to the deck.

  • Dimension Valley is extremely powerful with Mew. Assault Laser can be used for only a single Lightning Energy and the Seismitoad-EX’s Quaking Punch that I just mentioned can be copied for that very same Energy cost. A Quaking Punch out of nowhere can completely dismantle a variety of decks and it just continues to prove Mew’s worth in the Crobat/Manectric-EX deck.

  • Crobat and Golbat Ability drops are really good versus Night March decks and help set up lots and lots of knockouts around the board. Head Ringer can be played to attach to Pokémon-EX and provide a means of a bigger damage output and a hindrance to our opponent’s attacking gameplan.

Deck List

Crobat/Raichu

  • This deck was played a very little bit throughout State Championships, but by a very noteworthy group of players. Enrique Avila managed a State Top 8 with the deck, in particular. He cited the deck’s good matchup with Night March decks for his main reason for playing it.

  • This deck can do well against Night March for a few reasons: Crobat and Golbat Ability usage is very effective against the low HP Night March critters and Raichu is a non-EX Pokémon that has the ability to trade back and forth with its non-EX Night March brethren.

  • Not only does this deck have an above average chance against Night March, but it can run with the pack of other decks as well. Pokémon-EX are outmatched against the strength of a Circle Circuit attack with a full bench for 180 damage with a Muscle Band attached to Raichu.

Deck List

Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX (Top 8 at a Europeon National Championship)

  • This deck has been receiving a bit of hype from players ever since it had some moderate success at some foreign National Championships. Similar to its Expanded Format counterpart, this deck aims to do massive damage with Darkrai-EX’s Dark Pulse attack for two Colorless Energy.

  • Some natural flaws of this deck include just simply being a bunch of not-so-synergetic Pokémon tossed in one deck. Not only that, but you rely heavily on Pokémon-EX, which can sometimes be punished by things that can score easy knockouts, particularly Night March. Obviously, Giratina-EX is your out to that deck, but games can play oddly where Double Dragon Energy could happen to be discarded via Xerosic or Enhanced Hammer and if you whiff a follow up, you can lose right there.

  • When a Max Elixir whiffs, which does happen, you immediately fall back quite a bit and get stuck in an awkward position where you might have to hit for a less than a ideal number that does not apply the pressure you need to to contend for a win.

Deck List

Glaceon-EX/Jolteon-EX

  • Another newer deck making its debut with the release of Fates Collide. This deck does not seem that great due to another obvious reliance on EX Pokémon. Yes, Glaceon-EX and Jolteon-EX are great ways to counter pretty much anything, but truth be told, they can be clunky attackers and tend to be swept by decks that can make a go at a quick early game knockout.

  • Some versions of this deck include Mew from Fates Collide. This idea is neat upon first inspection, but when you consider the fact that you have to actually have the Glaceon-EX or Jolteon-EX sitting on the Bench so an attack can be copied, you may realize that a timely Lysandre can bring that very Pokémon into the Active spot and ruin your plans. Not only that, but to decks that play both Basic and Evolution Pokémon, Mews can be knocked out relatively easily and that can spell big trouble as well.

  • Max Elixir helps give is deck a major boost and Shaymin-EXs can be played if we play Parallel City to limit or Bench down after playing them. When an Elixir misses, sometimes we can fall too far behind to win.

Deck List

Greninja BREAK

  • As of right now, Greninja BREAK decks have been gaining a lot of traction in the format. N coming back to Standard helps them out tremendously as they can use Shadow Stitching in combination with N to create an extremely undesirable game state for the opponent. Receiving a lower hand size along with being locked out of Abilities decimates a lot of decks, Night March in particular. Shaymin-EX becomes unusable, so players must naturally draw a draw card (in most cases) to escape the rut they are tossed into.

  • Greninja BREAK is strong against nearly every deck out there. Its naturally strong Ability and powerful attacks make for an all-around powerful Pokémon in nearly every situation. The pure dominance of the deck once it sets up is pretty unrivaled by any other option. The use of say, two Giant Water Shurikens in one turn is just insane.

  • The top concern with Greninja BREAK builds is the lack of consistency in many games. I love the deck, but far too often it fails to set up, or just manages to a turn late. Some lists choose to play lower Supporter counts, which I do not recommend. Maxing out copies of N and Professor Sycamore, along with playing Trainers’ Mail I feel is the best way to build a successful list. Once you have that consistency engine in place, setup is much easier and fluid.

Deck List

M Alakazam-EX

  • M Alakazam-EX is a new concept from Fates Collide. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be all that great. The deck is similar to Crobat/Wobbuffet decks that had minimal success in past tournaments. M ‘kazam is just far too reliant on Ability to even do damage for it to be all that strong.

  • Donning a Weakness to Psychic is something a player never really wants to go into a tournament with. Pumpkaboo, a major attacker in the most popular deck out there, Night March, also happens to be Psychic type and will mow down these Pokémon-EX like there is no tomorrow.

  • M Alakazam-EX is an interesting concept and after my minimal testing I have not found a very great version of the deck. I think it could have some potential if it can be built to beat Night March and contend with Greninja BREAK decks. Another point of concern is the fact that Greninja just so happens to have a Shadow Stitching attack that is pretty good against Ability-based decks.

Deck List

M Manectric-EX

  • M Manectric-EX gained a few new cards from Fates Collide. Glaceon-EX being the biggest one. Glaceon brings another neat option to the deck which can be paired alongside Jolteon-EX for a one, two combo that can potentially lock any deck out of a win.

  • Like most Mega Pokémon decks, Manec can struggle to compete with faster moving things, most notably, Night March. Jolteon-EX is seen as the counter to that, but as we all know, Night March can still play around that nuisance with Escape Rope as well as Target Whistle plays. Sometimes, Jolteon-EX may hit the field and have to wait to attack with also opens the door for a Lysandre or successful Pokémon Catcher flip to snag it into the Active position for a sick knockout.

  • Aside from a few unfavorable matchups, M Manec-EX boasts a strong resume against almost everything else. Most decks cannot manage to take down a 210 HP Pokémon in one hit, so they will have to burn precious time waiting with multiple hit knockouts. Glaceon-EX and Jolteon-EX can delay opponents from getting the lead that they would like to have while M Manectric-EX gets online and starts dealing the heavier damage.

Deck List

M Rayquaza-EX

  • Over the course of United States State Championships, M Rayquaza-EX had some success in southern states when paired with Jolteon-EX. Personally, I do not think Jolteon-EX is all that great, as it generally does not even win the matchup it is supposed to help against, that being Night March. In order to achieve a Jolteon-EX attack in this match, we will likely have to wait a turn to attach two Energy cards to it, that being a Lightning and a Double Colorless. This gives a Night March an adequate chance to Lysandre the Jolteon-EX threat and knock it out before it locks us out of attacks for the rest of the game. Not only that, but most of times we will have to play down Hoopa-EX and/or Shaymin-EX to even get that elusive Jolt.

  • Aside from its pretty poor matchup with Night March, M Rayquaza-EX is quite the strong deck. It can fair well with just about anything. The explosive nature of the deck as in how it can go off and do massive damage from the first turn onwards is very good in a speedy format.

  • M Ray does not always have to fill its Bench in every matchup. We must remember that limiting our Bench can be really beneficial sometimes. Say we are up against a Zoroark deck, Keeping our Bench at just four Pokémon can be amazing just to take the knockouts we need but avoid getting knocked out in one hit ourselves.

Deck List (Top 8 at a United States State Championship)

Night March

  • Night March, the deck to beat! So much hype has been devoted to this deck, even my last article! Night March remains extremely powerful in the Standard Format and should until an adequate counter card or deck is printed to deal with it. Night March has an uncanny knack for being able to beat anything it gets paired up with. The power of Battle Compressor along with VS Seeker and now Puzzle of Time is unrivaled by any other concept.
    The sheer consistency and raw power of this deck makes it the force it is.

  • Greninja BREAK can be a tough matchup for Night March. With N back in the mix, that can make matters even worse. N to a low count and then a timely Shadow Stitching from a Greninja can be a game changer. Without access to Shaymin-EX, Night March because really weak to lower sized Ns. Shadow Stitching can also conveniently score a knockout on a Joltik (without Fighting Fury Belt) or a Pumpkaboo (without Fighting Fury Belt) with a Muscle Band on the ‘ninja. Most Greninja decks play a Startling Megaphone to clear our Fighting Fury Belts anyways, so that makes matters even worse.

  • I still remain adamant that Night March is the best deck around, but that does not necessarily make it the best deck for the tournament. With such a large target on its head, all the counters are coming out to play. From Giratina-EX, Greninja BREAK, Jirachi, Jolteon-EX and Trevenant BREAK just to name a few, Night March could be poised for some real struggles come Nationals. As always, though, Night March is such a flexible deck that techs can be added to accommodate for some of its weaknesses.

Deck List

Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX

  • This deck is running under the radar at the moment, but can potentially be pretty good. It sounds bad, but nearly every deck in the format is crippled by the ever-so-powerful Item lock. Not only that, but Giratina-EX covers bases that Seismitoad-EX is unable to reach, like decks that can go off and get set up even with Item lock impending. Giratina-EX can effectively cause and auto-win scenario against this format’s king, that being Night March. Most March decks do not play an Enhanced Hammer or really any way to deal with a Giratina-EX once it decides to attack.

  • Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX struggles with things like Greninja BREAK due to their ability to heal damage with Rough Seas and not be too hindered by Item lock if they get one good turn of Item usage. Sometimes when this deck is under pressure, it can fold to a quick start dealing one hit knockouts right out the gate.

  • This deck could be extremely good if you are expecting oodles of Night March decks and have a stout strategy against the rest of the field. Having a consistent decklist is a point of concern as when you do not have damage modifiers like Hypnotoxic Laser, sometimes the deck’s attackers get knocked out much faster than usual and the game can go too fast for it to handle.

Deck List

Seismitoad-EX/Max Elixir

  • When I first heard about this deck, I admit that I was not a big fan. Now after playing against it a few times, it is actually pretty solid. The build sets up behind a barrage of quick Quaking Punches, fueled by Max Elixir drops. Other attackers include Articuno, Glaceon-EX, Manaphy-EX and Regice. These attackers combine to form a powerful force with options for most matchups.

  • Articuno comes in handy versus Night March and other low HP decks. Glaceon-EX creates an easy win against Trevenant BREAK decks and other Evolution decks. Manaphy-EX can also come in clutch versus Trevenant BREAK with its Mineral Pump attack, offsetting the damage from Silent fear entirely. Regice helps out against EX decks like a M Rayquaza-EX deck, for instance.

  • Bronzong BREAK decks could be potentially challenging as well, as they have a diverse pool of options to deal with most of the threats that this Water deck packs. Overall, the power of Max Elixir immediately in the opening of a game, combined with powerful attackers makes for a pretty cool and versatile deck.

Deck List

Trevenant BREAK

  • Trevenant BREAK gained tons of popularity in the last week of State Championships in the United States. It was played primarily as a counter to Night March, which had previously been the most popular deck.

  • Trevenant when playing first is extremely scary for every deck out there. A Wally can achieve a turn one Trevenant combo make it so the opponent can potentially not be able to play a single Item card all game. If that immediate scare was not enough, Silent Fear on Trevenant BREAK can be used for simply a single Psychic Energy. This is pretty dang good since the attack hits every Pokémon on your opponent's’ side of the field for 30 damage. These numbers add up extremely fast and pressure the opponent immensely with a lock and the pressure from attacking.

  • Trev’ can struggle with playing second in a lot of cases, but that too can be overcome. Regardless, some matchups still remain tough to beat, like any type of Darkness decks. A Wailord-EX deck can be troublesome as well, since they can heal the damage right off and remove Energy. Rough Seas is a problem for the deck since it essentially offsets the damage from a Silent Fear. M Manectric-EX is pretty bad for this deck. 210 HP and an attack that either one hit knocks out a Trevenant or two hit knocks out a Trevenant BREAK is not good at all.

Deck List

Vileplume/Latios-EX

  • This silly concept arose as yet another counter to Night March. When we play first, we will generally win all of our games. Going second is a different story because Latios-EX is outmatched by pretty much every attacker out there.

  • A lone Wobbuffet can just shut most of this deck down from the beginning, so that is something to keep in mind when making a decision on it.

  • Some decks can still manage to build a formidable board even under an immediate Item lock from this deck. That being because Latios-EX is really not the most fantastic attacker out there and deals minimal damage for a cheap cost.

Deck List

Vileplume/Vespiquen

  • Another Vileplume deck aimed to shut the opponent down from turn one onwards. This deck flies through cards shooting for a turn one ‘plume to hopefully achieve an “I pass.” from the opponent.

  • Once again, this deck will struggle with an opener of a Wobbuffet. When we play second with this deck, sometimes Hex Maniac could have had a chance to be played on our opponent’s first turn and that will hinder our gameplan tremendously.

  • Sometimes this deck can draw poorly and lose to dead hands. If the combo of a Vileplume and a sufficient number of Pokémon in the discard is not achieved turn one, gameplay can be hard as you can be overwhelmed quickly.

Deck List

Wailord-EX

  • Wailord-EX saw some play as another week four State Championships deck. Enrique Avila and myself played it in Iowa (we played each other in the first round) and he had a Top Four finish with the deck.

  • This deck struggles with immediate pressure, most notably from something like a Vespiquen. Yveltal with Oblivion Wing can be annoying since it can just keep reattaching Energy that may have been discarded with things like Team Flare Grunt or Crushing Hammer, if we decided to play that. Greninja is a huge problem for this deck because with its Moonlight Slash attack, Water Energy can be returned to the hand so that a Wailord-EX player cannot discard it. This creates nearly unwinnable scenario for the Wailord-EX player. Another big problem for this deck is an occasional dead opening hand where you do not have too many options. Something like Night March can steal a cheap win in that way.

  • This deck is very disruptive and strong against most decks, however. If we can overcome general inconsistencies and avoid the bad matchups, success is there for the taking.

Deck List (Provided by Daniel Altavilla)

Yveltal/Gallade

  • Here is a deck that saw a slide in popularity throughout States. Night March gaining Puzzle of Time became favored in this matchup. One of the drawing points to this deck was a strong Night March matchup and with that gone, it does not remain as naturally powerful.

  • A strong Trevenant BREAK matchup is nearly all this deck has going for it. Greninja BREAK is really tough to handle and most other decks are going to be a tough grind which might shape out to be able to even matchups in the end.

  • Gallade is still strong against Fighting-Weak Pokémon for sure. Sensitive Blade and supplemental damage with Yveltals and Zoroark will remain strong, but in many cases even though this is a good concept, it is not enough to get wins.

Deck List (Top 8 at a United States State Championship)

Yveltal/Zoroark BREAK

  • Another deck that saw an extreme increase in popularity and success in the final week of State Championships. Kevin Baxter was able to take down a State Championship with his own Zoroark deck. Other players had great success with this build as well.

  • A couple Target Whistle included in this deck is a very strong concept. It allows Zoroark to hit for bigger numbers and Shaymin-EX can be recycled onto our opponent’s Bench and re-Lysandred for a knockout.

  • This deck trades very well with Night March decks since we are using primarily non-EX Pokémon outside of the omnipresent Shaymin-EX. Trades can be won via Target Whistle.

Deck List (Top 8 at a United States State Championship)

PLAYING WITH A BYE OR BYES

Byes are one of the most exciting prizes to receive from doing well at a Regional or State Championship. There are some things to know before getting too overzealous, however. When you start the National Championships with a bye, you are almost always pairing up against another player with a bye in your first actual round of play. This means you will likely be playing another high-caliber player such as yourself and will be faced with a challenging game right away. This can sometimes be frustrating as you hit a bad matchup right away. For example, last year my two byes that I earned paired me against a M Manectric-EX deck right out the gate. The Garbodor/Seismitoad-EX deck that Jason Klaczynski, myself and a few others used did not stand much of a chance and I was swept both games in a swift fashion.

Anyways, this knowing that you will be paired against an alike player means you can make a more informed deck choice, which is pretty nice! Sometimes players will tell you it is advantageous to choose a more risky deck choice when playing ahead with byes. This most certainly can hold true in many cases. Having to play less rounds with say, an inconsistent deck, can prove really useful in making it to the second day of play in this huge tournament. With this in mind, deck choice can be shortcutted to benefit the player with the byes!

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The National Championship is a pretty daunting tournament from the get-go. Do not let it get to you, though! It plays just the same as another Regional Championship (in most nine round tournament cases). As a player, one should remain calm and confident through the day. No, you will not play more rounds than a Regional. The attendance as well as the venue will be bigger, but it is essentially still the same as any other larger tournament that I am sure many of you attended throughout the course of the season.

Take each round one at a time and maintain focus. In years past, a timer has been displayed for players to make use of. Ensure that your opponents are keeping on track of time and not ripping you out of a win.

Try not to let little mistakes get the best of you. To ensure placement in the second day of play, one must generally get 20 match points, a 6-1-2 record. Sometimes 19 match points will make it in, this can be seen as 5-0-4 or 6-2-1.

Do not set a goal for yourself and try to maximize every opportunity you have. Play well, stay focused and make the best choices you can.

CONCLUSION

That is all for today. All of the deck lists provided are extremely solid. Many thoughts have been explored to help you make a more educated deck choice. I hope that you learned something that will pay dividends at your upcoming National Championships. Good luck everyone and catch you next time!

-Caleb

[+15] okko


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