Experts' corner

Ryan Sabelhaus

"Time for Some Ground and Pound": A Top 64 Regionals Report

Ryan goes over his 40th Place finish with Primal Groudon-EX at Lancaster Regionals with a look toward Week 3.

10/16/2015 by Ryan Sabelhaus

Ryan goes over his 40th place finish with Primal Groudon-EX in Lancaster, PA. He also goes over his backup choice for that Regionals, along with giving some observations and future predictions for the upcoming third week of Regional Championships.


Hello again, 60cards readers! Another weekend of Regional Championships has come and gone, which resulted in Vespiquen dominating the scene in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jimmy O'Brien flew through the competition and finished the two-day tournament with an overall record of 15-0-1, eventually hoisting the trophy with a win over Frank Diaz in the finals. The big story to take away from this weekend was the humongous influx of M Manectric-EX decks, which was a fairly obvious prediction coming true since Yveltal dominated the first set of Regionals. Not only just M Manectric-EX decks filled the top tables, but a huge amount of Vespiquen also showed up and performed very well in Lancaster.

I also attended this Regional Championship and performed fairly well, ending with a final record of 6-2-1 (40th Place). Although I ended up missing the Top 32, I felt like this was a good learning experience to how the Pokémon community will react towards recent success for decks. The community saw Yveltal and Blastoise performing well in the first week of Regionals, to which the obvious counter decks were Vespiquen and M Manectric-EX/Garbodor/Tool Drop. Overall, players aren't overanalyzing results and are just opting for simple counters to the successful decks.

For this event, I decided to go with a deck from the recent past that performed very well for me. With positive matchups against a good portion of the metagame, it seemed like a fairly easy choice. After discussing which deck I went with, we'll jump into my other deck choice that I didn't go with, and finish the article with some observations and predictions for Week 3 of Regionals. Let's get into the article!

Primal Groudon-EX

While analyzing which decks would be the most popular, I formulated a list of decks that I wanted to have good matchups against. This list included Yveltal-EX, Archie's Blastoise, M Manectric-EX variants, Seismitoad-EX decks, M Rayquaza-EX decks, and Night March. I finally came to the conclusion that Primal Groudon-EX would be the best choice and could stand toe-to-toe against all six of these popular choices in the metagame. With some specific tech cards added into my build, I felt confident in my matchups as long as I was able to play against any of these positive matchups. Here were my opponents round by round:

Round 1: Archie's Blastoise                                    W (1-0)
Round 2: Vileplume/Regice/Aegislash                      L (1-1)
Round 3: Donphan/Focus Sash/Eeveelutions            W (2-1)
Round 4: Turbo M Latios-EX/Mewtwo-EX                  T (2-1-1)
Round 5: Donphan/Focus Sash/Eeveelutions            L (2-2-1)
Round 6: M Sceptile-EX/Malamar-EX                       W (3-2-1)
Round 7: Giratina-EX/Crobat                                  W (4-2-1)
Round 8: Yveltal-EX/Darkrai-EX                              W (5-2-1)
Round 9: M Manectric-EX/Wobbuffet/Tool Drop         W (6-2-1)

In total, I played against just three of the decks that I was preparing for (Archie's Blastoise, Yveltal-EX, and M Manectric-EX), which I was able to win all three rounds. Every other matchup that I faced was not what I was expecting to see, especially both of the Donphan decks that had Focus Sash to throw a wrench in my deck's strategy. I can't even begin to express how confused I was when a M Latios-EX deck began to snipe my Primal Groudon-EX for 120 damage every turn, completely countering the focus of my deck to hide until I'm prepared to begin the fight. All in all, there were a lot of strange matchups that I faced, but it made for an interesting tournament that was full of surprises.

If I had to choose another deck in retrospect, I probably would not have gone with Primal Groudon-EX. With the large amount of Vespiquen and M Manectric-EX, along with a high amount of variety being played that day, Landorus-EX/Crobat certainly seemed to be the play.

Mega Rayquaza-EX/Hex Maniac

My other deck choice for the tournament was going to be a speed M Rayquaza-EX/Hex Maniac deck. My ride up to Lancaster, Pennsylvania was with some close friends, including Zander Bennett. Together with the help of deck-building mastermind Michael Canaves, Zander built a Speed Rayquaza deck that he piloted to a 4th Place finish at Arizona Regionals. Everyone in the car was speaking very highly of this M Rayquaza-EX deck, so I decided to try out his build for a couple of test hands. The deck was extremely fast and effective, through its huge damage output and Ability-locking from the very first turn. Let's get into the deck list that I was holding as a backup for Lancaster Regionals.

If you had seen this deck list before, the only change that I've made would be the addition of another Hoopa-EX in place of the Xerosic. With a deck that focuses on pure speed and damage output, there just doesn't seem to be any time to utilize a Xerosic, especially when it could be used as a Hex Maniac on that turn instead. The third Hoopa-EX should help to add a little more consistency to this already fast deck, allowing a Hoopa-EX to almost guarantee hitting the board on the first turn. All it takes is one Hoopa-EX to begin a train of Shaymin-EX, trainers, and a Hex Maniac to seal the deal.

The main weakness of this type of deck would be the inherent vulnerability to a turn-one Ghetsis. If you end up going first, you won't have to deal with this possibility, but if you go second and get hit with a Ghetsis, the game could end very quickly. With almost all of your draw support coming from Item cards (Ultra Ball, Acro Bike, Trainers' Mail), having to shuffle in more than half of your hand could be game-breaking. Israel Sosa was able to use Ghetsis to his advantage in Arizona and slowed down Zander just enough to overcome this build in the Top 4 of that Regionals. Although just that one Supporter card can't seal the matchup and win the whole game, it is definitely annoying to deal with as the M Rayquaza-EX player.

Observations and Predictions for Week 3 of Regional Championships

For making predictions towards the third week of Regional Championships, we have to analyze what performed well this past week. Let's go over some general observations.

General Observations from Week 2 of Regionals:

1) M Manectric-EX based decks were six of the Top 16 decks in Lancaster, PA. They dominated the top to mid-range tables throughout the entire day. Many of the best players in the game were piloting this deck, which included Dean Nezam (Top 8), Sam Chen, Dustin Zimmerman, Curtis Lyon, Azul Garcia (Top 8), and Steven Varesko (Top 8).

2) Yveltal just doesn't seem to go away, regardless of how many M Manectric-EX decks show up. Yveltal-EX decks took three spots in the Top 16, with the best finish coming from Frank Diaz, who made it to the Finals. Darkness decks have proven to just be extremely consistent and hard to deal with throughout both weekends of Regional Championships.

3) Vespiquen decks swarmed out of the hive for the second week of Regional Championships and dominated the tournament. Jimmy O'Brien went basically undefeated, with just one tie throughout both days, and Dylan Bryan finished in 3rd Place with the deck.

4) Blastoise almost completely disappeared at this Regionals, with only one showing in the Top 16. It seemed like the large amount of Hex Maniac, Garbodor, and Grass Pokémon were able to scare off most of the Blastoise decks.

5) There seemed to be many strange decks around the middle tables, such as Donphan/Eeveelutions, Vileplume/Regice, and Rayquaza/Eelektrik. They didn't perform very well and probably won't see as much play in the upcoming week, unless some revelation is made that can help some of their matchups.

Taking this information, we can probably formulate some opinions on what can be seen in the upcoming weekend. I feel as though I should warn everyone that these are just my opinions and shouldn't be taken literally, as they may not come true. Let's go over some of my predictions for the upcoming week.

Overall Predictions for Week 3 of Regionals:

1) M Manectric-EX will still be popular. The deck is very strong, extremely consistent, and can deal with many of the popular decks in the metagame. With so many big-name players utilizing this deck and seeing the potential, M Manectric-EX will surely be around for the third week of Regionals. It can deal with Blastoise since it plays Garbodor, it can deal with Yveltal from the weakness to Lightning-type Pokémon, and it can deal with Seismitoad-EX decks since it has free Retreat and can constantly switch between attackers.

2) Blastoise will continue to decline. With the recent success of Vespiquen, along with multiple Garbodor decks making it into the Top 16, there's almost no way to feel confident in the deck right now. When a Keldeo-EX can't attack without being one-shotted, the deck will certainly struggle to get anything done. This also applies to when Blastoise can't use his Ability, as the deck will cease to work.

3) Darkness decks will continue to stick around, just like they always have. The deck is consistent, especially with the addition of Dark Patch. Expect to play against at least one Darkness-based deck this upcoming weekend.

4) Vespiquen will be played more than ever in this upcoming Regionals. Everyone noticed how quickly the deck was able to run through the competition. O'Brien was able go 15-0-1 on his way to the gold, with Dylan Bryan following closely behind with barely any scratches on his resume for the day. Vespiquen was the best choice for the day and will continue to perform well due to its speed and raw power. Expect to see Vespiquen in higher numbers than ever seen before.

5) Landorus-EX/Crobat and Night March decks will show up in small amounts in an attempt to counter the Vespiquen and M Manectric-EX decks that did well last weekend. They are the clear counters to the top performing decks and can deal with plenty of other opponents in the metagame. Don't fully expect to see either of these decks sitting across from you, but don't be surprised if they are performing well at any Regional Championships.


Hopefully these observations and predictions have helped you in some way towards your preparation for Regional Championships. If Lancaster was any indication of future events, my advice would be to prepare for any deck to sit across from you. With so many sets out for the Expanded format, there is certainly plenty of room for innovation in builds.

Good luck to everyone competing in this third week of Regional Championships. I will be attending Fort Wayne Regionals and can't wait to see everybody there! If you have any questions, don't be afraid to leave me a comment or message me. Thanks for reading!

-Ryan Sabelhaus <3

[+23] okko


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