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Alex Wilson

Utah's Finest: A Look Toward Salt Lake City Regionals

Alex Wilson goes over some of his favorite decks to consider for Salt Lake City Regionals, ...

04/04/2017 by Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson goes over some of his favorite decks to consider for Salt Lake City Regionals, including a list he's used to top multiple league cups. Even going over some of his favorite standard Rayquaza builds.

Hey 60cards readers, I'm back with my second article, this time about the Standard format. I’m going to try to go as deep as I can into my favorite decks in standard and why each deck is a solid consideration for Salt Lake City Regionals. First off however, congrats to Isreal Sosa for becoming the first ever five-time Regional champion! For as many people that say Pokemon is a game of nothing but luck and RNG, it sure is funny that we continuously find the same players topping every event. I love the Expanded format, so I hate that I missed out on that weekend. But I was at least able to place second and third at some league cups.

The Standard format has continually changed throughout the season. We’ve seen the meta revolve around M Mewtwo-EX, then everything strongly revolving around Yveltal, then Gardevoir, and lately it has seemed like the new deck to play around is Decidueye/Vileplume. After John Kettler’s strong finishes in Anaheim and St. Louis, Decidueye/Vileplume has seen an insane number of top cut finishes worldwide in European regionals, Australian Internationals, and just about every league cup in the last month. Decidueye is a force to be reckoned with, even when in inexperienced hands. Because of its popularity and recent successes, you can expect a bunch of people to be playing it in Salt Lake City. Because of that, I strongly believe that if you want to win Salt Lake City, you need to play a deck that not only has the upper hand in the Decidueye matchup, but still has a decent chance against the rest of the field. So here are my favorite decks that everyone should consider testing for Salt Lake City.

Volcanion-EX

Volcanion is the first deck everyone thinks of when playing in a field of Decidueye. The most obvious advantage Volcanion has over Decidueye is weakness. Decidueye-GX is a 240 HP owl in tights, (terrible attempt at a Robin Hood pun…), other than Mewtwo and Rayquaza, not too many other decks can 1HKO for that much damage. But thanks to Decidueye’s weakness to Fire types, Volcanion-EX’s Volcanic Heat attack can swing for 260 damage! Even a baby Volcanion can one shot a Decidueye-GX! If you’re able to pull off four Steam Ups in one turn, Volcanion’s Power Heater attack can melt away Decidueye-GX for 280 damage. If you choose to play Fighting Fury Belt, reaching those numbers are a little easier as the need for one Steam Up is replaced. But the list I’ve enjoyed playing the most leaves Fighting Fury Belts out of the picture. Here’s the list:

Volc

I’m sure you all know by now how a Volcanion deck works… but here’s a quick rundown. Your optimal setup is to start with a baby Volcanion in the active spot, use your Hoopa-EX’s Scoundrel Ring ability to grab two Volcanion-EXs and a Shaymin-EX. Attach a Fire Energy to the active, play Sky Field, maybe discard a Fire Energy with Volcanion-EX’s Steam Up ability, then Set Up to draw a new hand. Discard more Fire Energies, attach some Float Stones, and end your first turn with a playable hand for the next turn. Every now and then, you’ll unfortunately start with a lone Hoopa-EX, which slows the deck down a ton, but as soon as you have a Volcanion ready to attack, the two Escape Rope, three Float Stone, and Olympia all help to get the Hoopa out of the active spot.

Salamence-EX

Salamence-EX wasn’t seeing too much play earlier in the season in Volcanion decks. But now, thanks to the introduction of Decidueye/Vileplume, decks like Mewtwo, Rayquaza, and obviously other Volcanions have increased in both numbers and performance. The reason behind playing Salamence-EX is its Beastly Fang attack. The attack has a base damage of 10… but the subtext is where it gets interesting. For each Pokémon-EX in play on your opponent’s side of the field, Beastly Fang deals an extra 50 damage! As a quick example, if your opponent has a M Mewtwo-EX in the active spot, two Mewtwo-EXs benched, and a Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX benched. Your opponent has five Pokémon-EX in play, allowing Salamence’s Beastly Fang attack to one shot everything for 260 damage! And although its attack requires three energies, utilizing both Max Elixir and baby Volcanion’s Power Heater easily builds up a scary Salamence-EX within a single turn. If you aren’t utilizing this beast in your Volcanion list, I strongly suggest trying it out! It can completely turn unfavorable matchups around with a single attack.

Sala


Sky Field

Sky Field is my stadium of choice with this deck. Scorched Earth is another great stadium that syncs well with this deck, but I’ve found that I’ve wanted to have as much bench space as possible, more so than having the option to discard an energy to draw a couple more cards. Of course, getting Fire Energies into the discard pile is what this deck is all about, I just find that you’ll always have access to a Steam Up ability to do that. Which is why I only play Sky Field, in the first turn, you want to play a Hoopa-EX to more than likely draw two Volcanion-EX and a Shaymin-EX. That’s already four spots on your bench, afterwards, you’ll still want to bench your other two Volcanion-EX and even a baby Volcanion. With Sky Field in play, you can do this all while having some left-over space for another Shaymin-EX to draw more cards. If your opponent play a counter stadium? You simply discard the Hoopa and Shaymins. The only downside in only playing Sky Fields however, is you don’t have a counter stadium for the Rayquaza matchup. But with a timely Salamence-EX, a Sky Field in play insures that the Rayquaza player will have at least five Pokémon-EX in play.

Professor’s Letter and Energy Retrieval

Professor’s Letter is a card I haven’t used in any deck I’ve ever played. And not too many Volcanion lists do, we even saw Pedro Torres’ Australian International winning list not include any Professor’s Letters. After a friend of mine used them to place second at a League Cup, I decided to try them out myself. I find the card can help in many clutch scenarios when you’re really needing that Fire Energy. It’s one of very few cards that is literally helpful no matter when you draw into it. Professor’s Letter allows you to search your deck for two Fire Energy and put them into your hand. The most common use of this card is to grab an energy for your attachment for the turn, and using the second to discard with a Steam Up ability, increasing your damage output for the turn. And with baby Volcanion’s Power Heater attack, the newly discarded Fire Energy is then immediately attached to a benched attacker. You can even play Professor’s Letter to use the two energy for two Steam Ups. The ability to search your deck for two energy is too useful to pass up. The way I like to look at it is replacing Fighting Fury Belts for Professor’s Letters increases consistency in the deck. And Energy Retrieval has the same effect, but grabs two energy from the discard pile rather than your deck. It’s a better option to use if in the same turn, you’re still hoping to hit an energy off of a Max Elixir, or even a Professor’s Letter on top of that.

Retreating Options

This list plays six ways of switching the active Pokémon with a benched one. The two reasons for this is because of the average retreat cost of two in this deck, not to mention Volcanion-EX’s repercussion of not being able to attack the turn after using Volcanic Heat. The three Float Stones allow Volcanion-EX to easily retreat whenever it so chooses, allowing you to chain a series of Volcanic Heat attacks. Escape Rope not only allows you to switch your active Pokémon, but forces your opponent to as well, which can make for some juicy plays. And though Olympia uses your supporter card for the turn, it allows you to switch your active, heal 30 damage from it, and still leaves the option of retreating in the same turn.

Decidueye Matchup – 70/30

As I’ve already mentioned, Volcanion has a clear advantage over Decidueye/Vileplume thanks to Decidueye’s weakness to fire. However, if the Decidueye player is skilled enough, a combination of getting the Plume lock into play, Lysandreing a Pokemon with no Float Stone attached, and slowly damaging the benched attackers with Feather Arrow and possible even a Meowth, can beat Volcanion. Though an Olympia and manual energy attachments can easily get around that sort of lock.

Turbo Darkrai Matchup – 60/40

Though Darkrai isn’t the smartest deck to play in an expected field of Vileplume as it relies heavily on items, it’s still a solid deck that puts up a fighting chance no matter the matchup. I usually consider this matchup to be roughly 50/50, but with the inclusion of Salamence-EX, Volcanion can take the upper hand much more easily. Darkrai must build up a bench with tons of energies before becoming a threat, while Volcanion can potentially start 1HKOing things as early as turn two. However, there are some Darkrai decks that opt to play Giratina-EX and even a Salamence-EX of their own. While a Giratina-EX is nothing for Volcanion, a Double Dragon Energy attachment grants Darkrai-EX an additional 40 damage. And if two Double Dragon Energy are attached, the Giratina-EX must be taken out fast, as that’s an additional 80 damage Darkrai is inflicting. A Salamence-EX is the biggest threat a Darkrai deck can offer Volcanion, as having three Volcanion-EX benched with a Hoopa-EX and a Shaymin-EX in play, their Salamence is one-shotting everything on our side of the field. The smartest player wins though, building up our own Salamence-EX or even Lysandreing their Salamence, knocking it out with some Steam Ups, can easily swing the match back into our favor.

Rayquaza Matchup – 50/50

In Expanded, Rayquaza obviously has a huge advantage in this matchup. But in Standard however, Rayquaza is much, much slower. Both decks have the potential to 1HKO each other’s main attackers, and with Sky Field being utilized in both decks, getting those 1HKOs is even easier for each. (More so for Rayquaza, to be honest.) Which is the downside in this matchup, Sky Field is guaranteed to stay in play the entire game, which means M Rayquaza-EX will be attacking for 180 damage to 240 damage nine out of ten times. Combine a knock out with a Hex Maniac each turn, and Volcanion is helpless. The matchup isn’t completely one sided thanks to Salamence-EX though. Like I mentioned earlier, Sky Field will always be in play, meaning that there will be five plus Pokemon EX on Rayquaza’s side of the field, thus Salamence-EX will always be able to one shot a M Rayqauaza-EX! And since Rayquaza’s slower in this Standard format, Rayquaza may find it hard to find both a Double Colorless Energy and a Mega Turbo in one turn to revenge kill your Salamence-EX. Just a helpful tip; if you can take a knock out with a combination of Volcanic Heat and Steam Ups, attack with Volcanion-EX rather than Salamence! Salamence-EX is your ticket to victory in this matchup. Always leave it on the bench, as soon as they play a Hex Maniac, that’s the time to knock out a Rayquaza with Salamence, since you can’t utilize Volcanion-EX’s Steam Up abilities for that turn.

Mewtwo Matchup - 40/60

I’ve played Mewtwo quite a bit, and in my testing, I enjoy getting paired up against a Volcanion deck. Mewtwo can easily take knock outs, with three energies attached to both itself and three on a Volcanion-EX, M Mewtwo-EX is attacking for 190 damage. And even if a Volcanion doesn’t have many energies attached, M Mewtwo can still pull off those numbers thanks to multiple DCE and Mega Turbos. That’s not even the worst part, Garbodor is Volcanion's biggest threat! Just one Garbotoxin and a Float Stone completely prevents Volcanion from taking 1HKOs with Steam Up being turned off. In order for Volcanion to have a chance in this matchup, Lysandreing any Trubbish or Garbodor thrown onto the bench is a necessity. Though that’s not Volcanion’s only win condition, once again, Salamence-EX is the MVP in this matchup. A perfectly timed Salamence can turn this matchup into Volcanion’s favor, especially if followed by knocking out their Garbodor. All in all, this matchup is very winnable, but leaves little to no room for error, meaning every decision counts.

yup

“I totally screwed that up didn’t I….”

Mewtwo

Mewtwo is by far my favorite deck in Standard as of writing this article. It has an answer to everything it’s paired up against, and can take massive knock outs most decks can only dream of. I’ve never believed in having “a playstyle,” but I find myself preferring decks that can hit hard and consistently prevent opponents from using their Abilities, like Rayquaza in Expanded. This list I provide below is the list I’ve used to place second and third at my most recent League Cups. At the first League Cup, I played a 2-2 Garbodor line as I scoped out six Volcanion decks and only one other Mewtwo deck prior to turning in my deck list. At the second one, I saw that there were an even number of both Volcanion and Mewtwo decks, so I played a 1-1 Garbodor line and a 1-1 Espeon-GX line. Espeon-GX helps in the mirror matchup thanks to its Psychic attack, which can 1HKO a M Mewtwo-EX if the Mewtwo has two Energies attached. Its Divide-GX attack is also useful, it can snipe a benched Garbodor, or place 100 damage counters on a M Mewtwo-EX to make KOing it with your own Mewtwo a lot easier, since M Mewtwo-EX’s Psychic Infinity attack doesn’t hit for weakness. The list I provide includes the 1-1 Espeon-GX line, but just remember that it’s best to play a more consistent 2-2 Garbodor line if you’re not expecting any Mewtwo mirror matches.

mm2


M Mewtwo-EX

I’m sure you all know how Mewtwo works, but here’s a quick rundown of how versatile Mewtwo’s attacks can be. M Mewtwo-EX’s Psychic Infinity attack deals a base damage of 70 damage since the attack requires two energies. Dealing 30 more damage for each Energy attached to both itself and the defending Pokémon, Mewtwo can easily KO anything standing in its way. If a Volcanion-EX has three Energies attached, a M Mewtwo-EX can one shot it with just a DCE and a Psychic Energy. I’m sure you get the point…. With Shrine of Memories, M Mewtwo-EX can use its previous evolution’s attacks, mainly Mewtwo-EX’s Damage Change attack. Even though M Mewtwo-EX can easily KO your opponent’s Pokemon, having the ability to move all damage counters from your attacker to your opponent’s can make for some sweet plays. Say you’re up against a Volcanion deck, and a Volcanion-EX just attacked your M Mewtwo-EX for 130 damage. M Mewtwo-EX than take a clean KO for two prizes and your opponent promotes a baby Volcanion. Since you have Garbotoxin in play, their Volcanion only attacks for 20 damage ending their turn. Considering your options, you could Lysandre a Volcanion-EX for an easy two prizes… but, they would than just use their baby Volcanion to attach even more energy to their benched Pokemon. If you take this route, you risk leaving your Mewtwo getting KO’d by another Volcanic Heat attack. Instead, with Shrine of Memories, you could use damage change, moving the 150 damage from your Mewtwo to their active Volcanion, taking a knock out and healing your Mewtwo all at once. With a fully healed Mewtwo, you no longer need to worry about your only attacker getting KO’d, and can easily sweep your way through the rest of the game.

Espeon-GX

Playing a 1-1 line can really come in clutch in the Mewtwo mirror. Espeon-GX’s Psychic attack can 1HKO a M Mewtwo-EX if the Mewtwo has two Energies attached, which is almost always the case. The mirror isn’t the only matchup it’s useful in however, Espeon’s first attack confuses your opponent’s active Pokemon and deals 30 damage. Having the ability to confuse your opponent can come in handy if you ever find yourself falling behind in desperate situations. You can even use it to add a little chip damage to set yourself up for a knock out with Psychic Infinity. Though a confused Pokemon can still retreat, the possibility of the Pokemon attacking itself forces your opponent to think outside of their usual habits. I won’t get too much into psychology, but putting your opponent in situations they’re not quite used to, can cause misplays and can win games in and of itself.

Ability Lock

Garbodor is a huge asset in this deck. With no way for your opponent to discard a Float Stone attached to your Garbodor, except for a rare Beedril-EX. Garbodor’s Garbotoxin ability can completely shut down your opponent from playing the game. Like I mentioned before, I tend to play Mewtwo with a 2-2 Garbodor line, but when playing Espeon-GX, you can get away with a 1-1 line perfectly fine. And if you happen to discard a Garbodor early on, or if it gets KO’d, Super Rod can recycle it right back into the deck. With this Espeon build, I’ve included a one-of Hex Maniac. With a 1-1 Garbodor line, in a 14+ round tournament, you won’t always get the Garbodor set up. So, having access to a Hex Maniac can surely be useful. Even with the intent of setting up a Garbodor, Hexing your opponent turn one can put you in an advantageous lead early on. Hex Maniac also works well with the Mega Evolution rule. Many times, I find myself with a DCE, a M Mewtwo-EX, Hex Maniac, and a Sycamore in a single hand. Without a Spirit Link attached to a Mewtwo-EX, you could I either choose to attach the Energy and play Sycamore, getting rid of your valuable attacker, only hoping to draw into a Spirit Link and another Mega with the Sycamore… Or, making a safer play of: attaching the energy, playing Hex Maniac, and mega evolving to end your turn. All while knowing that you’ll have access to a new hand the following turn. Additionally, while Hex Maniac can be useful in the 2-2 Garbodor build, playing four N or a Delinquent in place of the Hex Maniac, are equally great options.

Skyla

Skyla is one of my favorite cards in this deck! Its usefulness is pretty obvious, it can grab any trainer card from the deck. This deck plays three evolutionary lines, meaning that there will be many occurrences where an evolution will need to be discarded from a Sycamore or an Ultra Ball in order to stay ahead in the game. So sometimes, rather than discarding any Pokemon, using Skyla as your supporter for the turn preserves your Pokemon and grabs something useful like an extra tool or a stadium. Most of the time, this deck is only looking for one card in order to pull off big attacks, or for disrupting your opponent. Grabbing a Shrine of Memories to heal Mewtwo and take a KO would be a missed opportunity if whiffed from a Sycamore. Maybe you need a DCE to KO the threat, but only have two left in your deck. Instead of trying to hit it off an N or Sycamore, you can attach a Psychic Energy and search your deck for a Mega Turbo with Skyla. Again, the ways this card can be used is obvious, and I don’t know how else I can explain it. But this card is amazing and has saved my butt many times. Just give it a try!

sky“You’re a good card, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”

Stadiums

Never play any of your Stadiums unless you HAVE to! This is a huge “misplay” I see players make all the time that can hurt in the late game. If you’re sitting across from a Rayquaza player, save the Parallel City for when they have benched seven or eight Pokémon. (Having Garbotoxin set up while limiting their bench to three wins games.) Unless you need to play a Sycamore with the Parallel City in hand… playing a one of Parallel City against a deck with four Sky Field is pretty useless, so make it count. Shrine of Memories is equally important, so many players see it as part of the deck that needs to be in play at all times. Save it for when you really need it! It is only used for one purpose, Damage Change.

Rayquaza Matchup – 65/35

As much as I love my big green flying serpent, this matchup is greatly in Mewtwo’s favor. Some would say that this matchup is 60/40 or even 50/50, but as much as I’ve played Rayquaza, Mewtwo is always the last matchup I want to see. Both M Rayquaza-EX and M Mewtwo-EX can 1HKO each other. But that is all Rayquaza has going for it in this matchup. Mewtwo on the other hand can take knock outs, limit Rayquaza’s bench discarding resources, and shut off Rayquaza’s true source of power, Abilities. Without Abilities, Rayquaza can’t find all the pieces it needs to build of a mega attacker. (Playing a 2-2 Garbodor line is preferred in this matchup.)

Volcanion Matchup – 60/40

Like I said before, Mewtwo has a huge advantage over Volcanion. Ability lock prevents Volcanion from ever 1HKOing your Mewtwos, while Mewtwo can still take two prizes every turn. The only threat Volcanion offers Mewtwo is a Salamence-EX. If you ever see a Salamence-EX put into play, play defensively. Until that Salamence is taken off the board, always have a second Mewtwo at the ready. (Playing a 2-2 Garbodor line is preferred in this matchup.)

M Mewtwo Mirror – 55/45

With the 1-1 Espeon-GX line, you take an advantage in the mirror. It’s not much, but it’s an alternative, easier way to knock out the opposing M Mewtwo-EX. Though, Espeon is weak to psychic as well, aaaand awards your opponent two prizes. Really, the better player and more consistent list wins the mirror. (The 1-1 Espeon-GX line is preferred in this matchup.)

m2


Decidueye/Vileplume Matchup – 50/50

This is a tricky matchup that can go either way. M Mewtwo-EX can one shot everything on your opponent’s side of the field. And Garbodor can prevent them from using Feather Arrow, Set Up, and Vileplume’s Irritating Pollen. The tricky part is Vileplume! Thanks to Forest of Giant Plants, Vileplume is able to get set up as soon as the first turn of the game.

A Steamy Rayquaza

Now who would I be if I didn’t include a Rayquaza deck! Actually… I’m going to give you guys two Rayquaza lists! Ya I love Rayquaza, yada yada yada, but truth is, it’s good in Standard too. First, I'll start off with my favorite Rayquaza build.

ray

3-3 Rayquaza

Pretty basic, I've tested four Rayquaza-EX before, but have always found that three is the perfect number. Occasionally, I'll switch out a Rayquaza-EX for the Dragon type that deals 30 damage with a DCE that has 180 damage. But that's only if I've scoped out any Zebstrikas prior to a tournament.

Volcanion-EX

This guy is a really fun addition to the deck, for the most part, it's only used in your first two turns. In Expanded, we have access to Battle Compressor and Computer Search, making it easy to discard a basic Energy so that you can use a Mega Turbo to attack turn one. In Standard however, only an Ultra Ball or a Sycamore can help in doing this. Volcanion-EX's ability, Steam Up, allows you to discard a basic Fire Energy from your hand, giving you another way of pulling off that turn one attack. It's only downside is its retreat cost, so make sure you save a Float Stone for that sucker.

Jirachi

Jirachi is a neat little guy that can greatly help in the Mewtwo matchup, and the Giratina-EX matchup. (My least favorite decks to see when piloting Rayquaza.) Its Star Dust attack allows you to discard a Special Energy from the defending Pokémon, while dealing 10 damage and preventing your opponent from attacking Jirachi during their next turn. It might not sound like much, but it can really swing a game or two into your favor. "But Alex, Mewtwo can just attach a Psychic Energy and use a Mega Turbo of their own.... Lysandreing your Rayquazas..." When the Rayquaza player was recently Parallel City'd, and is under Ability lock, what other game winning options do you have? It's definitely worth a spot in this list, and even if it doesn't come in handy in a particular matchup, it's an additional Pokémon on your bench fueling your Rayquaza's attack.

Oranguru

My good friend Chip Richey convinced me how good this card is in Rayquaza. He used it in his 9th place St Louis Rayquaza list and I believe his Top 8 Athens build as well. Mainly, in the late game, getting N'd to one or two cards can really hurt. Oranguru's ability helps in these situations in that it allows you to draw until you have three cards in your hand. That way you won't have to rely on top decking a Lysandre for the win. ;) It even helps at any point in the game since Rayquaza usually burns through it's recourses fast. So having additional draw options doesn't hurt. And though this is a bit of a stretch, considering we should never see it get played again thanks to the introduction of GXs, Oranguru can 1HKO a Regice.

ora

Hex Maniac

This is ideally the card you want to play every single turn, preventing your opponents from ever using any abilities. But we all know that won't always be possible. Two Hex Maniac in Expanded is a perfect number since we have Battle Compressors, Computer Search, and Jirachi-EX, but it Standard, I've been playing three. When going up against matchups like Volcanion, Decidueye/Vileplume, Gardevoir, and other Rayquazas, Hexing your opponent will be of great help whether it's the first turn of the game or the last. Volcanion can no longer pull off 1HKOs, you can use your items against Vileplume, and Gardevoir/Rayqauza decks can't continuously refile their bench as effectively. I can't express this enough, if you don't need to play a draw supporter for your turn or a Lysandre, turn your opponent's abilities off!

hex

"The more the better, the more the better!"

Super Rod over Brock

I've been off and on about whether to play Super Rod or Brock's Grit. And I still can't make up my mind half of the time. All in all, I find a Super Rod to be much more useful than Brock. Brock is a supporter, meaning you have to pick and choose as to whether you really need Pokemon back in your deck, or if playing another supporter is far more valuable. Super Rod can be played when ever, followed by a Lysandre for the KO or a disruptive N. Currently, the only popular deck that plays Parallel City is Mewtwo, and they're usually only playing one. Making it a little easier to refill your bench, meaning you won't always need to reshuffle six Pokemon back into your deck if playing a Brock anyway.

Special Charge

You’ve probably noticed that I didn’t include a Special Charge in this list. Honestly, it’s always that 61st card I consider for nearly every Rayquaza build. You could cut a Trainers’ Mail or Hex Maniac for one, but other than against Umbreon-GX decks and Lapras decks, I don’t really think there’s much of a need to recycle your Double Colorless Energies back into your deck.

Gardevoir Matchup - 70/30

The numbers might not be this drastic, but Rayquaza has a huge advantage in this matchup. Rayquaza can easily 1HKO a M Gardevoir-EX, consider Gardevoir rarely runs a Sky Field counter. While it's impossible for M Gardevoir to 1HKO a M Rayquaza-EX, even with discarding eight benched Pokemon and a Professor Kukui, Gardevoir is maxing out at just 210 damage, leaving Rayquaza with 10 HP left.

Volcanion Matchup – 50/50

This is a fairly even matchup. Like in the Expanded format, Volcanion tends to play their own copies of Sky Field, allowing Rayquaza to always maintain a full "Emerald Breaking" bench. 180 damage to 1HKO an opposing Volcanion-EX is nothing for Rayquaza, even if a Fighting Fury Belt is attached, with the likely hood of Sky Field always sitting in play, 240 damage is another walk in the park for Rayquaza. Combining 1HKOs with a Hex Maniac completely prevents the Volcanion player from ever gaining a lead against you. The only thing to look out for in this matchup, besides your opponent using three Steam Ups for a 1HKO, is the Salamence-EX every good Volcanion list plays. If it's ever benched, Lysandre it for the KO, do NOT let your opponent build up a Salamence-EX. With multiple Shamyin-EX, Rayquaza-EX, and other EXs on your bench, their Salamence will never miss out on a 1HKO.

Decidueye/Vileplume - 50/50

This is a sketchy matchup, once Vileplume is set up, it becomes difficult for Rayquaza to find the resources needed to continue a stream of knock outs. But if Rayquaza can get a good lead in the game, it’s not too hard for Rayquaza to take a prize every turn. The three Hex Maniac are a huge asset in this matchup, turning off Irritating Pollen, Feather Arrows, and Shaymin’s Set Ups, gives you access to Items, easier knock outs, and slows your opponent down for a turn. One thing to keep in mind in this matchup, the stadium war is real. Don’t play a Sky Field until your opponent plays down a Forest of Giant Plants first. The last thing you want is to run out of Sky Field in the late game, unable to knock out a Decidueye-GX for the win. And one last little thing with this deck, if you really, really, really want to….. you can build up the Volcanion-EX with three Fire Energies and use its Volcanic Heat attack to one shot a Decidueye-GX. I wouldn’t advice it however, still, it’s an option.

Mewtwo Matchup – 35/65

This matchup might lean more towards 40/60, but I want to put an emphasis on how bad this matchup is. With M Mewtwo-EX able to one shot your M Rayquaza-EX, all while shutting off abilities and limiting your bench space to three, a game can quickly go downhill fast. At a recent League Cup, I gained a quick lead against a M Mewtwo deck, I was up two prizes to six. Before I knew it, they evolved their Trubbish, played a Parallel City, mega evolved a Mewtwo, attached a DCE, a mega turbo, and N’d me to two cards. (They won.) Star Dust Jirachi can help in this matchup, discarding a Mewtwo’s Double Colorless Energy, and preventing Jirachi from getting knocked out the following turn, may give you some extra time to catch back up or take the lead.

r

Giratina-EX and Zebstrika Matchups – Yuk

Some other cards to look out for when playing Rayquaza are Giratina-EX and Zebstrika. Turbo Dark decks sometimes play Giratina-EX, its Chaos Wheel attack prevents you from playing stadiums, tools, and DCEs the following turn. And with its ability granting it immunity from Mega Rayquaza, it can be tough to both knock out Giratina and build up a second attacker to stay ahead in the game. Zebstrika can be found in Vespiquen decks, while Vespiquen has died down in both popularity and league cup performances, it might not be much of a threat. But still, if paired up against one or two Zebstrika, that get recycled with Super Rod or Buddy-Buddy Rescue, it’s hard to stay ahead in this matchup. The only card that can really help in these matchups is Jirachi, discard a Special Energy and stalling for a turn.

Rayquaza/Espeon-GX

This is more of a list aimed to beating the awful Mewtwo matchup. About three weeks ago, when testing for some upcoming league cups, my Raleigh friends told me about this "secret deck." So, I threw it together and loved it! Fully planning on playing it that following Sunday, we were surprised to see results from Saturday cups, showing that others had already thought of the deck as well, including fellow 60cards writer Jose Marrero. So, I ended up falling back on my Mewtwo build that I listed above. Here's the Rayquaza/Espeon list I've found to be the most consistent, since I went over some of the key cards in the list above, I’ll only review Espeon in this list and the matchups Espeon affects.

1-1 Espeon-GX

Espeon's Psychic attack deals 60 damage, plus 30 more for each energy attached to the defending Pokemon. Besides the Mewtwo matchup, you really won’t use Espeon's attacks often, but if a M Mewtwo-EX has two Energy attached to it, Espeon one shots it. Which is way easier, and smarter, than building a bench of eight Pokemon to 1HKO a M Mewtwo-EX with a Rayquaza. Even when not facing the Mewtwo matchup, both Eevee and Espeon can be useful. Eevee acts as an addition Pokemon on the bench to fuel Rayquaza's Emerald Break. And Espeon's first attack can confuse your opponent's Pokemon, possibly giving you a turn or turn two of not being attacked. All while making it a little easier for Rayquaza to KO your opponent's Pokemon. And don’t forget about its GX attack, placing 10 damage counter on your opponent’s Pokemon in any way you like can make for so awesome plays!

esp

"Step aside, I'll take care of this."

Mewtwo Matchup – 45/55

Including Espeon-GX in this build greatly increases Rayquaza’s chances in this matchup. Espeon’s Psychic attack destroys Mewtwos, but unfortunately, Espeon is weak to Psychic types as well, so be weary of a Scatter Shot. Even if Espeon isn’t able to attack in this game, if your opponent uses their resources to Lysandre it, it may give you an opening to revenge kill their Mewtwo with an Emerald Break. I still like Jirachi in this deck, so you still have access to a Star Dust stall if all else fails.

Giratina-EX Matchup – A Little Better

This matchup doesn’t improve too much, but unlike M Rayquaza-EX, Espeon-GX is able to attack Giratina if you don’t have access to a Hex Maniac. Espeon can even 1HKO a Giratina-EX, with four energies attached to Giratina, Espeon’s Psychic attack deals a perfect 180 damage for two prizes!

Closing Thoughts

Salt Lake City Regionals will be the first Standard Regionals since the one in Georgia, back in February. With such a large gap since the last Standard tournament in the US, there’s no telling what could happen at this event. Will Yveltal make a comeback? Personally, I’m expecting for there to be a large amount of Mewtwo decks and Mewtwo techs. Not to mention an absurd amount of Decidueye/Vileplume decks. Decidueye and Mewtwo by far have the largest targets on their backs. If you’re aiming to beat Decidueye, I suggest playing Volcanion or Mewtwo. If your wanting to beat Mewtwo however, teching an Espeon-GX or playing Gardevoir might go a long way. And Rayquaza is a solid, consistent deck that is always worth the consideration. I’ve greatly enjoyed playing Mewtwo in standard, I know the matchups and how to win them, even if people were to tech for the matchup, I’d feel very confident in myself going into this tournament with Mewtwo. This tournament will be a huge deciding factor for what is expected in Roanoke, Virginia, coming up in the first weekend of May. Until then, I’ll be observing the meta, competing in some League Cups (with my new 60cards playmat), and waiting patiently to win my third Regionals title.

Thanks for reading my second article, I put a lot into this one, so any feedback is greatly appreciated! Give it a like and friend request me on Facebook! Until next time!

[+16] okko


 

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