Experts' corner

Ryan Sabelhaus

"California Dreaming" - A 6th Place Anaheim Regionals Report and Revelations for Future Events

Ryan's back with his tournament report from the Anaheim Regional Championships and a discussion of the current Standard format.

02/26/2017 by Ryan Sabelhaus

Ryan's back with his tournament report from the Anaheim Regional Championships, where he was able to outlast over 500 competitors to finish at 6th place. He discusses his deck list, along with some big revelations for future Standard format tournaments!


What’s happening, 60cards readers! I’m back again with a short article this time, in which I’ll discuss what just happened at Anaheim Regionals and go over the deck that I piloted to a strong finish at this tournament. This exciting Regional Championship has come and gone, leaving behind a very strange deck as our champion… Darkrai-EX w/ Dragons? I’m sure that I can speak for nearly everybody in the Pokemon community when I say that nobody saw this coming. To make this tournament even more odd, the top decks that dominated the tournament didn’t even use any cards from the new expansion Sun & Moon: Speed Darkrai-EX variants and Mega Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor ended up taking the majority of spots for Day 2 of Anaheim Regionals. Although there were some new faces in the elite second day of competition (Decidueye-GX, Lapras-GX, Tauros-GX), many players opted to pick comfort choices that they were used to testing with.

I was able to secure a very good placing at this tournament with an extremely consistent Mega Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor deck that I’ve been playing around with for the longest time. After two long days of competition, I went into the Top 8 of Anaheim Regionals as the 3rd seed overall, inevitably falling short of the gold to a Vespiquen/Zoroark/Mew-EX build. Now I’ll go over this deck, discuss what makes this build so consistent, and review some of the matchups that I faced throughout the 14 rounds of Swiss and Top 8 match. We’ll also go over some interesting facts that I picked up during this tournament that should certainly apply to all future Standard format events. Let’s jump into this article!

Table of contents

Anaheim Regionals 6th Place – Mega Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor

Anaheim Tournament Report

Interesting Facts from this Regionals


Anaheim Regionals 6th Place – Mega Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor

For anyone that has seen the Team ARG Pokemon-TCG fan page on Facebook, I can guarantee that you have seen this list before. This is the exact 60 cards that Igor Costa used to get 2nd place at the Dallas Regional Championships, and in my opinion, is the best possible 60 card combination for a Mega Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor deck. The list is very consistent and has plenty of maxed out trainer spots to assure that all important cards are found when necessary. These include the 4 Mewtwo Spirit Link, to assure that a player can mega evolve on the second turn of the game without ending their turn, the 4 Mega Turbo, to assure that every Mega Mewtwo-EX can swing for big damage and take knockouts in succession, and 4 Ultra Ball to almost guarantee a first turn Hoopa-EX to find all the Mewtwo-EX. With a very thick M Mewtwo-EX line, getting out a turn 2 mega evolution is all but certain for this deck.

For possible changes to make, there is always the possibility of adding in an Espeon-GX line to the deck. Travis Nunlist was also able to make the Top 8 at this tournament using M Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor/Espeon-GX, which has 58 of the same cards used in the above list. If a player were to take out the Hex Maniac and one of the Trainers’ Mail for the 1-1 Espeon-GX line, that would be the same list Travis used in Anaheim. In my opinion, the Espeon-GX is a very good card that would have certainly helped in the mirror match, against opposing Vespiquen builds, and many other matchups. Both versions of this deck are powerful in the current Standard format, it’s just a preference call based on what decks are expected in that area.

Anaheim Tournament Report

Round 1: Yveltal-EX / Garbodor / Tauros-GX               WLT 0-0-1
Round 2: Yveltal-EX / Garbodor / Tauros-GX               WW 1-0-1
Round 3: Gardevoir-EX (Despair Ray/Brilliant Arrow)   LWW 2-0-1
Round 4: Volcanion-EX / Volcanion                             WW 3-0-1
Round 5: Mega Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor / Zebstrika       WW 4-0-1
Round 6: Mega Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor                       WW 5-0-1 (James Horvath)
Round 7: Mega Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor/ Espeon-GX     WLW 6-0-1 (Sam Chen)
Round 8: Yveltal-EX / Garbodor / Tauros-GX / Mewtwo WLT 6-0-2 (Jimmy Pendarvis)
Round 9: Darkrai-EX / Yveltal / Oranguru                    WLW 7-0-2 (Josh Fernando)

End of Day 1: 23 Points (2nd seed overall)

Round 10: Darkrai-EX / Yveltal / Tauros-GX                  WW 8-0-2 (Lawrence Xu - 1st seed)
Round 11: Vespiquen / Herdier / Zoroark / Oranguru     LWT 8-0-3 (Phinnegan Lynch)
Round 12: Yveltal-EX / Garbodor / Tauros-GX / Mewtwo LL 8-1-3 (Igor Costa)
Round 13: Decidueye-GX / Vileplume / Tauros-GX         WLT 8-1-4 (John Kettler)
Round 14: Solgaleo-GX / Lurantis-GX / Glaceon-EX       WW 9-1-4 (Drew Kennett)

End of Day 2 Swiss: 31 Points (3rd seed overall)

Top 8: Vespiquen / Zoroark / Mew-EX / Oranguru LL 9-2-4 (Jeffrey Cheng)

Overall Placing: 6th Place

So, this is exactly how my two-day tournament went by round. I started off the day playing against two straight Yveltal-EX/Garbodor/Tauros-GX decks, which is inherently a good matchup for M Mewtwo-EX in my opinion. Swinging for more damage and having more HP is just the beginning, as the real game-changer comes when Damage Change is used to completely place all damage onto one of their attackers and force an opponent to swing 3 times into the same Mega Mewtwo-EX. This inevitably leads to a win in almost every game and can only be counteracted by an opponent hitting a one-shot knockout on a Mega Mewtwo-EX (which can come from a Mewtwo EVO or Ninja Boy into Tauros-GX).

My third round should certainly not have gone so well for me, as Mega Gardevoir is almost a complete auto-loss for this deck. With Psychic weakness and only needing two energies to attack, Gardevoir can destroy a Mega Mewtwo-EX with ease. I was able to get a little lucky and trap a Hoopa-EX in the active position until multiple Mega Mewtwo-EX were powered up. There was also a pinnacle point in game 3, in which my opponent accidentally knocked his hand and deck to the ground. He attempted to pick them both up but couldn’t discern which cards were his hand. The judges were called over and since my opponent had just used a Trainers’ Mail to find an N (the only card we knew was in his hand), I was given the option of either letting my opponent use an N or to just have him receive a game loss. I chose to let him play the N and to continue the game, which ended up going my favor in the end.

The fourth round was a Volcanion-EX deck, which is a very easy matchup for Mega Mewtwo-EX. This round didn’t go too smooth at first, but I ended up sealing each game with a Garbodor down to shut off all extra damage. The next 3 rounds were all mirror matches, as I played against 3 straight Mega Mewtwo-EX decks. The mirror match is all about getting setup, conserving resources, and making sure to watch out for Damage Change plays or 4-energy Scattershot knockouts. Since Scattershot applies weakness, a Shrine of Memories can be used to hit for big damage and potentially swing a game. Perhaps the shining moment of this tournament was when I was able to find my one copy of Hex Maniac to shut down Sam Chen’s Eevee from using Energy Evolution on the first turn. This actually allowed me to gain a huge advantage in the prize exchange and prevented a big threat from hitting the board, which won me the match.

The 8th round was against my fellow ARG teammate Jimmy Pendarvis that was playing Yveltal-EX/Garbodor with a Mewtwo EVO to counter Mega Mewtwo-EX. The games were pretty even with Jimmy playing energy removal and counters, which led to a clean tie. For the final round of Swiss, I was down-paired to Josh Fernando that was hoping to ID into cut. Since I was already assured day 2 with even a loss, I chose to play the match out and came away with an extra win for the next day of competition. Speed Darkrai-EX is another great matchup that can’t deal with Damage Change very well.

Heading into the second day of competition, I knew that I was going to play the overall 1st seed which was a Speed Darkrai-EX deck. All I needed to do was find a win, and then the rest of the day should be smooth sailing. I hit the expected matchup for the 10th round, and was able to get a nice victory over Lawrence. All I would need is one more win to basically assure a top 8 (with some ID’s included). I ended up hitting Phinnegan Lynch in the 11th round, which was a very close matchup. He was able to abuse powers like crazy for the first couple of turns using a Sky Field, which then allowed him to Parallel City himself a turn later to discard huge amounts of Pokemon (thus, powering up his Bee Revenge attack for Vespiquen). This strategy was extremely fast-paced and difficult to deal with! I ended up getting destroyed in the first game, but followed this up by shutting down all abilities quickly in the second game. With no time left, this round also ended in a tie.

Still only needing a win, I got demolished in a weird series with Igor that involved both of us dead-drawing. Igor hit a critical play where he nailed the Super Rod to put back in the Tauros-GX, VS Seeker for Ninja Boy, and knockout my big Mega Mewtwo-EX in the same turn. I ended up losing both games pretty handily. The 13th round came up and I was facing the deck that everyone had feared all day, John Kettler with his Decidueye-GX/Vileplume deck. My thought process going into this match was if I could setup a Garbodor quickly, I should be able to win with ease. Game one went exactly as planned, with myself setting up a turn two Garbodor to shut down his Vileplume and take control. Game 2 flipped completely with John hitting a quick Vileplume and locking me up. The third game was just one turn away from ending, but John retreated into a Pokemon with enough HP left to survive getting smacked by my Mega Mewtwo-EX. Another tie meant that I needed to win my last game.

For the 14th and final round of the tournament, I found one of the worst matchups in the entire tournament for my deck… Solgaleo-GX/Lurantis-GX. Drew Kennett is a great player and piloted this beauty of a list into prime position for making the Top 8 of Anaheim Regionals. During the first game, I was able to force Drew to avoid using his GX attack, through threatening knockouts with multiple Mega Mewtwo-EX. With forcing Drew to discard all his energy in each attack, I eventually was able to Lysandre and knockout his only Solgaleo-GX that had just been re-charged with energy by the active Lurantis-GX. The second game went a little quicker, as the basic pre-evolution of Solgaleo-GX is weak to psychic attacks and was taken down quickly by a Scattershot from Mewtwo-EX. Drew wasn’t able to hit anything to evolve his other Cosmog, which I hit with a Lysandre to clear the board of attackers. The game ended a couple of turns after that knockout and I was left with a surprising victory into the Top 8.

It felt amazing to finally make the Top 8 after those last couple of stressful rounds. Now I was to face a Vespiquen/Zoroark deck that played 4 Klefki and a Mew-EX, which were very annoying to deal with for a M Mewtwo-EX build. I knew that Garbodor would be a key component for achieving victory and moving onto the Top 4. The first game starts and I search my prizes immediately for the Garbodor…. It’s prized! The game goes on for a couple of turns, but eventually Jeffrey is able to use his Mew-EX to swing for huge knockouts and Klefki prevented my deck from taking early prizes. Time for the second game and some redemption. I get to go first and throw down an Ultra Ball to begin setting up. I search for Garbodor again to assure that it gets out quickly this game…. And it’s prized again! Unbelievably unlucky that my crucial Pokemon for this matchup found his way to the prizes in both games, but that’s the risk of only running one copy. I got swept again pretty quickly with no way to slow Jeffrey down and was knocked out of the tournament with a 6th place finish. Definitely can’t complain after such a solid performance from my deck!


Interesting Facts from this Regionals

1) Espeon-GX is a very good card and certainly outperformed Umbreon-GX in the current Standard format. This was very surprising based on preliminary thoughts upon the set’s release. Look for more Espeon-GX to be used in certain builds, especially in Mega Mewtwo-EX decks.

2) Vespiquen showed how strong the deck actually can perform, with 4 good showings at Anaheim Regionals. Rahul Reddy and Jeffrey Cheng both made it to the promised land of Top 8 with their different Vespiquen builds, proving that the deck can also be played with differing styles to success.

3) Based on the results from Anaheim Regionals, Tauros-GX was certainly the most game-changing card to come out of the Sun and Moon set. This card allowed many players to setup behind a huge wall for the first couple of turns, while also providing a big threat later in the game when paired with a Ninja Boy.

4) Innovation is certainly not dead in the current Standard format, which was proven by the three strange decks to find big success at this tournament. These decks were Decidueye-GX/Vileplume, Waterbox with Lapras-GX, and Solgaleo-GX/Lurantis-GX. Unknown strategies that have never really been incorporated before proved to work very well for these three newcomers on the scene.

5) Sometimes, we don’t need to use any new cards from a set release to find success. I didn’t use a single card from the Sun and Moon set and was able to place 6th, while the eventual champion also didn’t incorporate any new cards into his build either. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Thanks to everyone that read this article and hopefully enjoyed hearing about Anaheim Regionals. This current Standard format definitely found some new deck choices with the release of Sun and Moon, which can only get more exciting for the upcoming Expanded Regional Championships. Don’t forget to check out Alter Reality Gaming for any updates on their professionally sponsored players (including myself), along with deck lists that have found huge success for those players. Be sure to “like” the Team ARG Pokemon-TCG page on Facebook to stay in the loop with these results as well. Thanks again for anybody that enjoyed this article and feel free to message me with any questions or comments that you may have!

-Ryan Sabelhaus <3

[+16] okko


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