04/17/2017 by Kenny Britton
Kenny Britton recaps his Utah Regionals performance including analysis of his deck list and matchups. He also examines the top three decks from the current standard format.
Table of contents
Hello 60cards readers! My name is Kenny Britton and I'm an experienced competitive Pokémon player. This is the first time I have written an article for the Pokémon community but I'm excited to share my insight and experiences from playing the game I love. I have been playing this game for six to seven years and have earned multiple invitations to the World Championships. This season I have caught fire and managed to win Anaheim Regionals, second place at San Jose Regionals, and fifth place at Utah Regionals! In this article I will be going over the deck that I used to start off to a blazing 10-1 record and finish top 8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. I will also share my thoughts and analysis on the top three decks from the Standard format. Enjoy!
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 4x Darkrai EX
- 2x Yveltal
- 1x Hoopa EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x Max Elixir
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 2x Lysandre
- 2x Silent Lab
- 1x Olympia
- 2x Escape Rope
- 1x Float Stone
- 2x Fighting Fury Belt
- 1x Parallel City
- 1x Enhanced Hammer
- 3x Exp. Share
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 1x Hex Maniac
- 1x Team Flare Grunt
- 3x N
- 12x Darkness Energy
4 Darkrai-EX/2 Yveltal
This is the core of the deck and the two attackers you use throughout the game. Turbo Darkrai is all about board control and building enough energy to Dark Pulse everything for knockouts. Yveltal is a very underrated card in here and I see people opting to not use it in certain matchups. In my opinion, it's the most important thing in the deck as it allows you to get even more energy in play and its cost is a single dark energy. You're also allowed to play the “seven prize” game by giving up a 1 prize attacker and forcing them to take seven prizes over six to win. The best part about playing this deck is getting enough energy into play and having immunity to any kind of comeback strategy.
2 Shaymin-EX/1 Hoopa-EX
The consistency and Pokémon engine of the deck. Both of these Pokémon allow you to set up from a single Ultra Ball and be set for the rest of the game. There is some debate over whether you need Hoopa-EX or not but I think it's vital to the deck's consistency. After an Ultra Ball you're able to set up your entire field and not have to worry about drawing your attackers. If you only play Ultra Ball for Shaymin-EX you still have to worry about getting more attackers and your deck has even more cards to draw through. It feels amazing to just get your attackers and focus on hitting energies or Max Elixirs.
4 Sycamore/3 N/4 Ultra Ball/3 Trainers' Mail
Since I've been playing Pokémon, I have always looked at the number of turn 1 outs to having a playable hand. One of the biggest complaints in this game is having a dead hand and I like to decrease the odds of that happening. I listed these cards because it's the support of the deck and when you open any one of these it usually means your hand is playable. This deck plays fourteen turn one outs which is actually one of the highest numbers in the current metagame, thus giving you the highest chance to be able to play a game.
3 Experience Share
This was probably the most unanticipated thing in my list compared to others that made top eight this weekend. I decided to go with three Experience Share after getting the idea from Jesper Eriksen's top 4 Oceania International list. It allows you to get them out faster and you don't have to worry about losing or prizing one. Even if you end up playing three Experience Shares in a single game it's still quite useful. One of the best counters to Turbo Darkrai is to knockout their Pokémon with Experience Shares and if you already have three in play you are safe from this.
2 Silent Lab/1 Parallel City
Chris Siakala was the first person to see success with Turbo Darkrai and popularized the structure of this deck. This stadium count stayed the same for me but it was something I have experimented with. In the Australia Internationals I tried going two Parallel City and one Silent Lab because I was afraid of locking myself out of abilities. In the end I had a poor performance and the stadium count was incorrect. The main problem with playing two Parallel City is you can't get rid of an opposing Parallel City. For example, if you were to use Silent Lab on the first turn of the game which is one of the most effective times to use it and they were able to counter your Silent Lab with a Parallel City of their own then you would be in an awful position. Turbo Darkrai is a deck that needs it's bench space for energies and Experience Shares so being limited to three can cost you the game. Another strong case for two Silent Lab is the fact that in the current standard format, decks are naturally inconsistent and dependent on abilities. Sometimes you can take an easy win from setting up after a single Ultra Ball and sticking a Silent Lab to prevent them from playing the game.
2 Escape Rope/1 Float Stone/1 Olympia
Time to talk about the switch effects and retreating aspect of the deck, which varies from list to list. In Anaheim, I went three Escape Rope and only one Olympia. I opted out of Float Stone because I preferred using Escape Rope and attaching my Fighting Fury Belt or Experience Shares to my Pokémon. I didn't want to waste a Float Stone on an attacker. Another problem I had with Float Stone was it only had one real use per game. It's rare that you actually get more than one retreat and “value” from Float Stone. If that's the case in the game then it's the same thing as an Escape Rope. Escape Rope is great to play around one prize attackers or to avoid things you can't deal with like Jolteon EX or Tauros GX. In Utah, I decided to make the switch to Float Stone because of the shift in the metagame. Decidueye Vileplume had broke into the scene and Escape Rope is weaker against Vileplume's trainer lock. If you're able to get a Float Stone before trainer lock then you will get more uses and value out of your card in comparison to Escape Rope. My favorite card in Darkrai-EX decks is Olympia. This card is so clutch because it allows you to have a reliable switch effect. After you use it the first time then you gain even more outs to switch cards because of Vs Seekers. You rarely get stalled after it gets discarded and you will always have a dependable out in your deck to prevent some tricky plays by your opponent. It's extremely useful and a staple in Darkrai-EX based decks.
1 Team Flare Grunt/1 Enhanced Hammer
Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer are meta calls. They're only useful for certain match ups and I predicted them to be useful for the expected Utah metagame. They can swing a few matchups that are dependent on special energies. Another thing about standard format is most decks don't have that much energy recovery so you can actually win a few games from playing these techs. To go into more detail, the Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer combo swings the Yveltal/Garbodor matchup. You can take away all of the energy on Yveltal BKT or Yveltal-EX and take over the game from there. They get stuck and fall too far behind to catch up to you. Without these cards, the match up is very close and they can win due to the Yveltal's ability shutting down Experience Share. Darkrai/Dragons, M Mewtwo/Garbodor, M Rayquaza, and Decidueye/Vileplume are also very dependent on special energies and these two tech cards allowed me to beat them this weekend.
1 Hex Maniac
Hex Maniac is probably the best card for the current state of the standard format. Almost every deck is dependent on abilities and using this supporter can shift the momentum of any game in your favor. Volcanion needs to use Steam Up, Vileplume needs its trainer lock, and every deck in the game needs the draw power of Shaymin-EX. The most important matchup for this tech card is Decidueye/Vileplume. Feather Arrow and trainer lock are overwhelming for Darkrai, and without Hex Maniac you eventually fold to that hard lock. For this reason, I found it vital to play Hex Maniac to buy me the few turns to win or take back control in the game. Hex Maniac not only shuts down the trainer lock and lets you play your items, but it prevents the pressure from Feather Arrow. It's a great feeling being able to deny them a knockout and force them to wait another turn or play into your Experience Share.
That's everything about my tech choices and counts. Now onto my Utah Regionals tournament report!
The day before the event, I was expecting the meta to be Decidueye/Vileplume, Turbo Darkrai, Volcanion, and Yveltal/Garbodor. This quickly ruled out some options for me but it also didn't give me a clear deck choice for the event. My final four choices were Solgaleo/Lurantis, Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor, Darkrai/Dragons and Turbo Darkrai. All four of these decks have a glaring weakness or autoloss in the current format so it made the decision extremely difficult. Once I arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, I met up with my friends and roommates for the weekend. We ate some of the best Mexican food I have ever had at the Red Iguana and then went back to the hotel to play test and figure out what to play for tomorrow.
We got in a bunch of games and play tested just about every viable deck in the format and couldn't draw any definitive conclusions on the correct deck choice for the weekend. There's just a problem with every deck, and at the end of the day you have to take a gamble that you won't experience one of them. Earlier in the week, I had thought about just countering the counter decks to Decidueye/Vileplume. That deck had all the hype and everyone was trying anything they could to beat it. The deck with the best matchups for that kind of meta was clearly Turbo Darkrai but there was a still a big problem with that. Turbo Darkrai has an unfavorable matchup against Decidueye/Vileplume and it's really hard to just accept taking the loss to the best deck. We continued to play test throughout the night and I finally decided to take the risk and gamble of playing Turbo Darkrai. Nobody else in my group decided to play Turbo Darkrai and it was interesting to see us all come to different conclusions and deck choices. Fun fact is, I actually never played a game with the list I would end up running the day before, but that's mostly because of my experience and winning a Regionals already with Darkrai/Dragons. I wasn't completely sure about my matchups or consistency but I didn't have enough time after taking so long to make my deck choice. This is a bad habit of mine, but it's usually how my pre-tournament process goes.
Saturday - Day 1
Round 1 – M Mewtwo EX Garbodor BKT
This is a very close match up but very simple at the same time. It comes down to two shot knockouts and then eventually building up to clean one hits. The advantage as the Turbo Darkrai player is you're the faster more consistent deck and the M Mewtwo/ Garbodor player is much slower and inconsistent. You will find yourself in the lead and getting ahead quickly. The lead you get from the starts can determine the match but that doesn't mean they can't keep up. If they're able to set up, they have a much stronger attack and recovery which can create major problems.
The trickiest and most important part of this match up is Shrine of Memories. M Mewtwo-EX can get insane momentum from getting a Shrine of Memories knockout on a Shaymin-EX and healing all the way back to 210 HP. There isn't much you can do if they pull off this combo except plan ahead of time. You can try to not use Shaymin-EX in the matchup but most of the time that's unlikely since you need it to set up and draw cards. The most common way from my experience in playing around Shrine of Memories is being cautious about how much damage you're doing. If you have the option of doing 90 or 110 damage with Dark Pulse, I would just do 90 and hold my energy for the turn. I don't want to give them the option of winning the game because I walked into a big Shrine of Memories play. Another situation that's very similar is 160 vs 180 damage. If that's the case then again I would swing for 160 to prevent them from using Shrine of Memories to do 180 damage to a Darkrai-EX with Experience Share.
Game 1 and 2:
Both games were about the same. He got a very slow start with M Mewtwo/Garbodor and I was able to capitalize on this by putting immediate pressure. I tried my best to use Silent Lab or Parallel City to force his hand to counter me with Shrine of Memories. This allowed me to bounce them when he had to counter me and it removed the threat of Shrine of Memories. I was also very cautious about my damage and using Shaymin EX throughout the series to prevent him from getting great use of his stadium. The entire series he was forced to play a two shot game which by then I was just to far ahead.
Round 2 – Espeon GX/Umbreon GX/Jolteon AOR/Flareon AOR/Vaporeon AOR
Game 1: I have an ugly start and I fall behind to Espeon GX attacking on turn two with Jolteon AOR in play. He is able to one shot my Yveltal and I fall so far behind. By the time I'm able to attack and put some kind of pressure he is already down to two prizes and has a significantly better position than me.
Game 2: I get to go first here and hit my turn one Ultra Ball. It sets up my board as I'm able to get attackers with energy from Max Elixir and attachments. I'm able to finish this strong start with a turn one Silent Lab which cripples him immensely. He has to bench some Eevees and pass since all he has is Ultra Ball that would have gotten Shaymin-EX if it weren't for Silent Lab. The game gets one sided from here as I just keep taking knockouts and he is never able to recover.
Game 3: He opted for a bunch of techs in his deck and he faced the inconsistency in this game. He gets another poor start and I'm able to set up and control the game. By the time he is able to get going and recover from his weak start I'm to far ahead and take game three.
Round 3 – M Mewtwo EX/Garbodor BKT
Game 1: I get a near perfect start of hitting three Max Elixirs and turn one Silent Lab going first. He has to N me but he can't recover from the stadium lock and the overwhelming board presence. On turn two, I was able to hit my forth Max Elixir and attach another energy from Oblivion Wing. He scoops after this great start.
Game 2: He gets to go first in game two and is able to get his turn one Scoundrel Ring to establish a strong board. I'm able to respond with the same set up and we begin doing some two shot exchanges. This game is very close and back and forth. It comes down to a big turn where he takes two prizes and I N him to three cards. I have to hope he doesn't hit Lysandre and Shrine of Memories because that would seal the game in his favor. Off the three cards and my counter stadium he is able to hit the combo. He uses Lysandre on my Shaymin-EX and Shrine of Memories to heal back up to 210 HP with five energy on his M Mewtwo-EX. That play is to strong and I end up losing this game.
Game 3: I get to go first and once again I'm able build a strong board consisting of multiple energies and a turn one Silent Lab. He falls behind because of the constant pressure throughout this game. He is even forced to discard an extra Shrine of Memories and this prevents him from using that power play to get back into the game. My board is to much for him and I take game three.
Round 4 – Darkrai-EX/Salamence-EX/Giratina-EX
In this round, I get paired against the deck I won Anaheim Regionals with. I know this matchup very well because I always played it from the other side and I felt it was unfavorable as the Darkrai Dragons player. They have removal for your Double Dragon Energy and you're extremely fragile to a turn one Parallel City. The advantage that Darkrai Dragons has is Salamence-EX. Salamence-EX forces the Turbo Darkrai player to limit their EX Pokémon and play the game without Hoopa-EX. This slows down Turbo Darkrai quite a bit and it can be enough to take a lead and win the game.
Game 1: I'm able to get a turn one Parallel City and control the game from the start. He doesn't have enough bench space to get much use from his dragons or Yveltal. He tries to attach a Double Dragon Energy but I'm able to respond to that with my Enhanced Hammer. He concedes after that because my lead and board position is just to much for him to make a comeback.
Game 2: He goes first and gets a turn one Hoopa-EX to start setting up. I respond with a small field of two Darkrai-EX and a Yveltal. I'm able to drop a Silent Lab and he gets locked because of it. He can't draw cards with his Shaymin EX and he starts running out of cards to play. I'm able to catch up to his lead of going first and start building up my board. I control the game from here with Team Flare Grunt/Enhanced Hammer and he is never able to catch up.
Round 5 – Yveltal-EX/Garbodor BKT
This is a matchup I discussed earlier in the article that I was prepared for. I have Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer to deal with the pressure of Yveltal-EX and Yveltal BKT. This is enough to slow them down and let me take the lead against them. The major thing is being able to play around Yveltal's ability which shuts down Experience Share. If they're able to do that you start losing energy and they will take control of the game. From my experience, it's worth using Lysandre to kill a Fright Night Yveltal with energy if it is representing a knockout play.
Game 1: He opens dead, attaches to Tauros-GX and passes. I get my usual set up and start putting on pressure. I get into an awkward spot of only having N to his dead hand but I just keep on poking his Tauros-GX with Yveltal and eventually I'm able to take it down. He is able to get a prize after top decking an Yveltal-EX and gets a knockout on my Yveltal. But at this point from his slow start I already have enough energy to kill the Yveltal-EX.
Game 2: He opens Yveltal and attaches to it. I attach a dark energy to Darkrai-EX and pass it right back. He hits me for 60 with Pitch Black Spear and I draw N. I play N, attach another dark energy to Darkrai-EX and hit him for 60 damage. I drew a combination of six supporters and energy. He draws for turn and slams down Ninja Boy to get Tauros-GX. He switches his Yveltal into a Tauros-GX and is able to bench me with Mad Bull-GX for 180 damage and a clean knockout on my Darkrai-EX.
Game 3: After two strange and very bad games of Pokémon, we finally get in a real game. I attempt to set up my board and get off the turn one Parallel City going first. He tries to set up his Yveltal BKT to put pressure. After a few turns I get enough energy to one shot his active Yveltal BKT and I hit my tech Enhanced Hammer to remove his only attacker on the bench with energy. This is a great tempo play and it gives me the lead. He doesn't have a great response to the play and has to attach to Yveltal BKT and pass. On my turn I have the Lysandre to either take a Shaymin-EX knockout and go to one prize or remove the Yveltal BKT. I decided to go after his energy and the pressure of Yveltal BKT. He can't do anything after that play and I win game three.
Round 6 – M Rayquaza EX (L.j. Foster)
In Round Six, I get my first M Rayquaza-EX of the tournament. This is a matchup that feels uncomfortable as a Turbo Darkrai player, because from the start you're going to fall behind quickly. You feel helpless to the early pressure that they put on and you will find yourself down three to four prizes and hoping that N can save you. My game plan in this matchup is to build enough energy to be able to one shot a M Rayquaza-EX through my Yveltal's Oblivion Wing attack. You have some options and tricks with N + counter stadium or Team Flare Grunt + Enhanced Hammer. I'm playing against a local Southern California player and World's competitor in L.j. Foster. He is very experienced with M Rayquaza-EX as it's the main deck he plays and I know I'm in for a tough series.
Game 1: He has a very weak start going first and I need to take advantage of it. I'm able to put pressure on him immediately and start taking prizes. I'm able to disrupt his weak start with my stadiums and Enhanced Hammer. I manage to take a three prize lead before he takes his first prize of the game. From there I decide to just go after his two Shaymin-EX to win the game and Lysandre one of them with a Silent Lab counter to his Sky Field. He is able to respond to that play and gets his best move of using N to put me at one card. Off the cards I draw for N I'm able to hit Vs Seeker for Lysandre and take game one.
Game 2: I'm very pleased I managed to take game one from his below average start and feel confident I can take game two or get away with a tie. In game two, he gets the start and set up that he wants and puts all kinds of pressure on me. I fall behind quickly to a rampage of two M Rayquaza-EX and try to find some help. I end up having to resort to the classic play of N + counter stadium to help bail me from this predicament. He isn't able to draw out of a N to two and I start to make my comeback. I managed to draw my Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer. I decide to take this course of action instead of trying to hit Max Elixirs with my Professor Sycamore. After playing both energy removal cards, I use my Yveltal to get more energy into play and to start getting ready to knock out these M Rayquazas. He isn't able to draw out of this Silent Lab lock and I'm able to remove more energy on my following turn. He doesn't end up drawing out of it and eventually I'm able to start using Lysandre on M Rayquazas and knocking them out to win the game.
Round 7 – M Mewtwo-EX/Wobbuffet GEN
We are the final two undefeated players at the event and they decide to put us on stream.
Game 1: He goes first and does nothing. He has a terrible hand and I just set up like I normally do. This game isn't much and I win on turn four or five.
Game 2: He goes first again and his hand is only slightly better than game one. He is able to attach some energy and evolve through the early turns of the game but it isn't much. After seeing his starts from both games I decide to be really passive in this game which could be my mistake. I decide to just take it slow and use Yveltal's Oblivion Wing over putting pressure to steal the game quickly. I felt that he didn't have anything and I would win anyways by just setting up my board. After using Oblivion Wing a few times, I see he finally top decks out of it and gets a Shrine of Memories knockout on my Yveltal. I realize after a single turn I'm now behind in the game and I'm in trouble. I try to recover with my disruption tools like Enhanced Hammers and N. It becomes a real back and forth game and it gets to one prize each. He has an active M Mewtwo-EX with five energy and I can either Team Flare Grunt and force him to have a Lysandre of his seven card hand, or I can N him to one and hope he can't hit a single energy to kill my Darkrai EX. I decide based on the odds to N him to one and he is able to draw an energy from those two cards. I lose game two after a very passive approach and I regret not being more aggressive.
Game 3: I approach the matchup like I did earlier in the day. I'm able to set up my board of Darkrai with energies and play annoying counter stadiums. I never give him the chance of using Shrine of Memories and I'm able to control this matchup again. He isn't able to pull anything off and I win game three.
I'm now the only 7-0 player in the room and I'm two wins away from going 9-0 which is something I've never done before. It's definitely been a goal of mine and I'm motivated to pull it off!
Round 8 – Darkrai/Dragons (Daniel Lozada)
In Round 8, I play against another Darkrai/Dragons player but this time he is playing only one card off from the list I played in Anaheim and took the advice I recommended in my interview with Rahul Reddy from The Chaos Gym. He is another World's competitor who knocked me out of my “win and in” last year in Utah.
Game 1: I go first and open Darkrai EX, attach, and pass. I have a terrible hand and he responds with a weak hand as well. We go back and forth of doing little to nothing but he is able to draw out of it first. I'm never able to draw out of it and he eventually benches me.
Game 2: I get the turn one Parallel City along with my typical set up. He has another weak start and I'm able to get in control of the game. He is never able to catch up and I eventually get to far ahead to the point he concedes early.
Game 3: He gets to go first and gets Hoopa-EX along with a turn one Parallel City against me. This prevents me from my Parallel City play against him. I opened the worst possible starter with Hoopa-EX and my turn one is a N, attach, and pass. He starts going off and my start is single attachments every turn. Around turn four or five he is already able to knock out my Darkrai EX and starts to do so. I can't comeback from an overwhelming board and concede.
The dream of going 9-0 is dead but I get the chance of playing the man responsible for popularizing Turbo Darkrai in Chris Siakala.
Round 9 – Turbo Darkrai (Chris Siakala)
Chris is also playing Turbo Darkrai and it turns out we have a one card difference. I'm running three Experience Share and he is running I believe an extra Trainer's Mail but I'm not absolutely sure.
Game 1: I get to go first with turn one Hoopa EX and Silent Lab. His start is extra slow because of the Silent Lab and I start off with a decent size lead. He eventually draws out of it and there's a ton of back and forth action with Oblivion Wing, Dark Pulse, and Escape Ropes. I'm able to get the first knockout on his Experience Share Darkrai EX and he can't return knockout my Darkrai EX. I'm able to Lysandre another Darkrai EX and he can't comeback from that.
Game 2: We reverse roles in game two. He goes first and sets up his board with a turn one Silent Lab. This prevents me from using my Hoopa-EX or Shaymin-EX and I respond with a much weaker board. I feel so far behind in game two and it was probably the same way he felt in game one. I can't realistically make a comeback and he wins game two.
Game 3: Just like game one and two, I'm able to get the same board and turn one Silent Lab my opponent. He falls behind but this game is a bit different. I'm not able to draw a supporter on turn three or turn four and I start whiffing energy attachments or switch effects. Chris is able to stall Pokémon and catch up to my lead. It becomes a back and forth game with him also drawing poorly without supporters and Silent Lab stuck in play. The game changing play is I'm able to get the first knockout on a Experience Share Darkrai-EX and he was never able to get enough energy in play to do that first or respond to my Darkrai-EX doing 180 damage. After that point, he can't respond and I'm doing 220 damage to take the final two prizes.
I finish Day 1 at 8-1 and First Seed!
Sunday - Day 2
Round 10 – Volcanion-EX (Mike Newey)
The Volcanion matchup is similar to most matchups as you try to develop energy onto your board and eventually start getting one hit knockouts. The advantage and control you have is through Silent Lab and Hex Maniac. Whenever you are able to play these cards you can prevent them from getting a one hit knockout of their own and force them to play the two shot game. One problem is the Volcanion matchup can look similar to M Rayquaza-EX one. They can take quick prizes and get a big lead. Sometimes you will find yourself down four prizes and having to rely on N + Silent Lab.
Game 1: I'm able to put pressure on him before he could put pressure on me. I think I hit a good amount of Max Elixirs early and he misses a few of his. I slow him down with my alternating stadiums and it slows him down enough to give me a lead. I lead the trading and find a turn to lock him out of abilities to take game one.
Game 2: This game he is able to get a much more explosive start and puts a ton of pressure on me. I have to resort to N + counter stadium to make a comeback. It's successful and I start to recover enough energy to make my comeback. Silent Lab eventually sticks and he is forced to two shot my attackers. I slowly start knocking out Volcanion-EX and he can't break the stadium. It's four to two prizes and he hits me with Volcanic Heat for 130. I manually retreat to my other clean Darkrai-EX to knock out the Volcanion-EX along with a Hex Maniac to assure he can't use Steam Up to win the game. He draws and his only out is to play his last Lysandre which is prized and I win game two.
Round 11 – Decidueye GX/Vileplume
This is the most difficult matchup for Turbo Darkrai right now, but the game plan is fairly simple. You need to use as many trainers as you can in the small window of time you're able to play them before trainer lock. Ideally turn one you want to explode and play your Max Elixirs, hit your Experience Shares, and Float Stone a two retreat Pokémon. Anytime you're able to draw into Hex Maniac or Lysandre it's a huge tempo swing and increases your chances of winning the matchup. Hex Manaic can effectively negate their turn and allow you to use trainers. Lysandre can buy you time from stalling or allow you to take knockouts on Vileplume.
Game 1: I mulligan four times and go second. He explodes and gets a turn one double Decidueye GX and Vileplume. Most people would concede here but I play it out because I'm content with tying an unfavorable matchup. I'm able to drag the game out to about 25 minutes before eventually getting crushed.
Game 2: I get to go first and go off but draw into an awkward hand that slows me down. He isn't able to get Vileplume out until turn three and this allows me to put on some pressure. When he finally gets Vileplume out, I have the Lysandre ready to bring it up since it didn't have a Float Stone. I hit it for 60 and he isn't able to retreat since it's impossible. He sets up his board a bit more and passes it back to me. I'm able to get the knockout on the Vileplume and he tries to set up another one. Fortunately for me, he didn't realize he prized his second Vileplume and he can't get it out. I'm able to follow up this turn with a Lysandre on Gloom to prevent him from using Revitalizer on the Vileplume I knocked out. Now, while I was distracted with the Vileplume he was attaching energy to attackers like Lugia EX and Decidueye GX. My board is actually much weaker than his because I'm only doing 100 damage and he starts responding with attacks. We end up trading my Darkrai-EX for his Lugia-EX and I go down to two prizes. He brings up his Decidueye-GX to kill my Darkrai-EX and all I have is a single Darkrai-EX left. I hit him for 100 and he takes the gamble of winning the game with Decidueye GX and tries to dig for Lysandre. He uses Set Up and misses the Lysandre but this gives me the opening I need to win the game. I'm able to Lysandre the newly benched Shaymin-EX to take game 2.
Game 3: I was content with a tie and time was called on the first turn of the game. He looked at his hand after opening Shaymin-EX and said “pass”. I was shocked as I actually had a chance to win this series. I tried to go through as much of my deck as possible to get enough Max Elixirs to kill the Shaymin-EX on turn one but I was not able to. I settle with a turn one Dark Pulse for 60 damage. He drew on turn two and tried to Lysandre my benched Darkrai-EX. I had the float stone in hand to retreat and manage to squeak out the win in game three!
At this point I have guaranteed my top 8 spot and most likely locked up first seed.
Round 12 – Darkrai/Dragons (Tony Jimenez)
I get down paired to another great player in Tony Jimenez who I actually played in the finals of Anaheim. This time we switched decks and he is using the same deck I used in Anaheim.
Game 1: He gets going and I open nothing which makes me pass on my first turn. There isn't much I can do this game after another bad opening hand and I lose quickly.
Game 2: For some reason this appears to be a trend but now he doesn't have anything and I take advantage of his weak start. I'm able to control his energy attachments with Enhanced Hammer and Team Flare Grunt. He just can't do anything without some actually draw support and I overwhelm him with damage to take game two.
Game 3: We both get decent starts this game but I hit some bad luck. I end up going 0/4 on Max Elixir this game and he is able to knockout my Darkrai EX on turn five or six. I can't do anything about this and take my second loss of the event.
In Round 13 and 14 I'm able to take a break from playing and intentionally draw with my opponents to secure our spots in top cut.
10-2-2 (1st Seed)
Top 8 – Volcanion (Mike Newey)
It's a rematch!
Game 1: I get another weak start and he hits all of his Max Elixirs. He is able to put immediate pressure and he just gets so far ahead. I try to make a comeback with N and Silent Lab but he is able to draw out of it this time and beats me.
Game 2: I get to go first and play a turn one Parallel City. He is never able to counter it and I control the game because he is limited to only three bench Pokémon. A combination of Dark Pulse and Hex Maniac with Parallel City leads to an easy win.
Game 3: He has another strong start and I have the worst start of the tournament. I once again go 0/4 from Max Elixir and he gets a four prize lead. It felt hopeless to even try to comeback from that but I try to anyways and go through the motions. I don't remember every detail but I manage to N + Silent Lab him to two cards. He is able to escape rope into my Yveltal and luckily for me he has no more cards in his hand. Since I went 0/4 from Max Elixir I need to build up my board again and it takes a few turns. I'm finally able to have enough energy for knockouts and he continues to draw useless cards. I make my move and Lysandre Volcanion EX #1 and knock it out to make it four to one prizes. He draws Float Stone and hits me for 130 with Volcanic Heat. I Escape Rope to a fresh Darkrai EX and Lysandre Volcanion EX #2. I was so far behind at this point that he powered up three Volcanion EX. The current game state is two prizes to one and he has no cards in hand. We both know it comes down to this top deck.....................................................
He draws and flips over a Vs Seeker to get Lysandre and win the game. He beats me 2-1 and later goes on to win the tournament!
LWL (10-3-2) and 5th Place
Hard way to go out but that's how the game works! It started off as an amazing run and I'm happy I was able to make it that far. It would have been amazing to pull off that comeback in game 3 of top 8 without hitting a single Max Elixir! The craziest thing about this weekend was going 0 for 4 on Max Elixir twice on Sunday. The odds of that happening is incredibly low and it happened twice. After another Regionals run that moves me to 667 CP and I'm looking forward to Brazil in two weeks!
Before I go, I would like to share my thoughts on the current standard format. I believe we have a pretty defined metagame and lists are extremely refined. We didn't see anything unexpected to have a strong impact in Utah and the decks that have been doing well continue to do so. I would say we have a “Big 3” decks in standard and they aren't going anywhere!
The first deck is Volcanion and the winner of this past weekend. It has managed to win two major tournaments including an Internationals in Masters. That's very impressive and it needs to be respected.
Here's how I would run Volcanion:
- 4x Volcanion EX
- 3x Volcanion
- 1x Entei
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 1x Hoopa EX
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Max Elixir
- 2x Sky Field
- 1x Parallel City
- 1x Fisherman
- 1x Pokemon Ranger
- 2x Lysandre
- 2x Float Stone
- 2x Escape Rope
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 2x Fighting Fury Belt
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 1x Olympia
- 2x Energy Retrieval
- 2x N
- 12x Fire Energy
3 Volcanion/1 Entei
These are the alternate attackers to Volcanion and very important to the overall deck strategy. The attack Power Heater is a better Oblivion Wing and it helps you establish board quickly while being able to take advantage of Steam Up from Volcanion-EX. The tech Entei is for specific match ups that are a slight problem for the deck. Entei has a cheap cost to attack and that's very efficient against the Decidueye/Vileplume matchup. The other use of Entei is against Sky Field-based decks that can one shot you very easily and use Hex Maniac against you to prevent you from getting knockouts. Entei is useful here because M Rayquaza for example requires a large bench to knockout your Pokémon and you can easily respond with your one prize attacker.
2 Sky Field/1 Parallel City
I've always been a fan of Sky Field in Volcanion. It feels much more consistent than typical builds and it allows you to really draw through your deck and get an efficient set up. Another advantage is it gives you bench space which can often be limited because of the necessity of using Hoopa-EX or Shaymin-EX throughout the course of a game. I prefer 1 Parallel City for the disruption on your opponent and the ability to remove a liability EX on your bench. It's a strong play to set up multiple Volcanions and remove the 110 HP Shaymin-EX on your bench.
1 Pokemon Ranger
One of the biggest flaws of Volcanion is the draw back of Volcanic Heat. It can be a huge problem and annoyance if you used Volcanic Heat last turn and don't have a switch effect to be able to rotate Volcanions. One of the weakest plays you might be forced to do is manually retreating three fire energies just so you can be able to attack for the turn. That's the purpose of Pokemon Ranger. It allows you to have more outs of resetting Volcanic Heat and it can be a nifty Jolteon-EX counter which sometimes sees play.
Volcanion is very consistent and it has similar consistency tools to Turbo Darkrai. It has potential to be very aggressive and take the lead early. It can knockout almost anything in the game and it has very strong matchups. It's definitely one of the top contenders in the game right now.
The second deck is Decidueye/Vileplume and a deck that has become a force to be reckoned with. An early Vileplume can swing any matchup and Decidueye-GX has an extremely strong ability.
Here's how I would run Decidueye Vileplume:
- 4x Decidueye GX
- 4x Rowlet
- 4x Dartrix
- 2x Vileplume
- 2x Gloom
- 2x Oddish
- 1x Beedrill EX
- 2x Lugia EX
- 3x Shaymin EX
- 4x Forest of Giant Plants
- 3x Lysandre
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 2x Float Stone
- 2x Revitalizer
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 3x Level Ball
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 3x N
- 3x Grass Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
This card is an absolute staple in Decidueye Vileplume. It has multiple uses and can swing a bunch of matchups. The attack Double Scrapper allows you to remove tools from play and that's important for Decidueye to win the Garbodor matchup. A weakness of this deck is definitely its reliance on abilities and this makes Garbodor a huge threat. The most common play for a Garbodor player is to get it going as fast as possible. They will try to get a turn one Trubbish with Float Stone and follow it up with a turn two or three Garbodor. If they decide to go this route it gives you a pretty easy decision. You can attempt to Lysandre the Garbodor or Trubbish and set up your Vileplume. They won't be able to get another tool down because of trainer lock and you will have access to your abilities for the rest of the game. Another important thing to note if they do decide to evolve to Garbodor is you can use Double Scrapper to make it get stuck because of it's three retreat cost. You can continuously stall it over and over which will allow you to rack a ton of damage on their bench via Feather Arrow.
Lugia-EX is a very underrated attacker in this deck. I prefer two copies of it because it actually helps quite a few matchups and it has great synergy with Decidueye/Vileplume. A difficult matchup for Decidueye is Volcanion. They're able to hit you for weakness and they do it quickly. Lugia-EX is luckily not weak to fire and can help put immediate damage into play against Volcanion. I think the best way to look at this card is that Feather Arrow is only around 40-60 damage per turn and Lugia EX can represent 100-150 damage. That alone is great for this deck and it can save you in the Volcanion matchup.
I love three copies of Lysandre in here. It's arguably the most important card in the entire deck for the strategy of locking your opponent out of the game. Countless games are won by dragging up a Pokemon and getting more damage in play over turns of the game. The biggest problem I have with two Lysandre is I often find myself having to discard them early to set up or just having to use two in a course of a game. This forces you to use your Hollow Hunt GX attack on Lysandre over other cards which can be annoying. I rather have the extra copy of the card and Hollow Hunt for another one or different card.
Decidueye/Vileplume is the current control deck of the format and it has the tools to win any matchup which is very appealing. It's a nice feeling being able to have a chance against any matchups because this lock is so strong. Another advantage of playing Decidueye/Vileplume is you have a strong Darkrai-EX matchup, which has been having a ton of success in the game.
The last deck of my “Big 3” is Turbo Darkrai. It's the most reliable deck and a deck I've had a ton of success with. Consistency is just king at times and can allow you to go far in tournaments regardless of having bad matchups. I've explained a lot about Darkrai in this article and there isn't anything I would really change. The list allowed me to start off 10-1 and I feel like it's almost perfect.
I'll also show you my updated Darkrai/Dragons list that I was able to pilot to the win at Anaheim Regionals over a month ago. It was once again successful this weekend and definitely another contender in the format. It's essentially another variant of Turbo Darkrai but it has much different matchups in comparison. The Darkrai/Dragons version has a much stronger Vespiquen, M Mewtwo/Garbodor, and M Ray matchup while Turbo Darkrai has a better time against Volcanion, Yveltal/Garbodor and Darkrai mirrors.
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 3x Darkrai EX
- 2x Yveltal
- 1x Hoopa EX
- 1x Salamence EX
- 2x Giratina EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x Max Elixir
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 2x Lysandre
- 1x Olympia
- 3x Escape Rope
- 2x Fighting Fury Belt
- 2x Parallel City
- 2x Exp. Share
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 1x Hex Maniac
- 3x N
- 10x Darkness Energy
- 4x Double Dragon Energy
1 Hex Maniac over Pokemon Center Lady
I made the change to Hex Maniac right after Anaheim Regionals. Pokemon Center Lady was useless for me throughout the day as I didn't hit any Yveltal/Garbodor. In general, it has lost it's effectiveness in this format and is no longer necessary. Another huge advantage as I have explained earlier in this article is the importance of abilities in standard. Just about every deck is dependent on them and that makes Hex Maniac useful in almost every matchup!
3 Escape Rope
Probably one of the most interesting differences from my list to other Darkrai-EX builds is my decision to go three Escape Rope. I don't believe in the mindset of just drawing your “one of” situational card at the right time. There's just way to many factors for it to actually prove effective and useful in a tournament. I believe in the special case of this deck and list that has no form of searching out specific cards that you should make a decision on either Escape Rope or Switch being better for your metagame. Playing a split of this lineup that requires you to draw it at the right time is way to situational and ineffective. I personally believe Escape Rope is better at the moment for the mirror matches and avoiding problems like Tauros-GX.
That's all folks! The standard format appears to be at a refined state right now. After a bunch of major tournaments, we have finally come to the conclusion of the top decks in this PRC-SUM format. I understand standard can be a bit frustrating because of the draws and inconsistencies but all you can do is accept it and hope for the best. These decks are all very good and have a chance of beating each other in a best of three so I expect them to all stay around until the next set. Thanks for taking the time to read my first article and I'm grateful to have a chance to write for 60cards!
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