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Kenny Britton

Utah Regionals Recap and the Big Three of the Standard Format

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.

17. 04. 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.


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!

5th Place Turbo Darkrai

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!

Friday and My Pre-Tournament Preparation

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.

WW (1-0)

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.

LWW (2-0)

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.

WLW (3-0)

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.

WW (4-0)

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.

WLW (5-0)

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.

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