06/26/2017 by Rahul Reddy
Hey guys, it's great to be back writing again after all this traveling. My last couple of weeks have been extremely busy, going from Madison to Mexico to Columbus for Origins. Now that I finally have a few days where I won't be planning a big trip I can sit down and organize my thoughts. That being said, we do have the North American Interncontinental Championships coming up soon, so this is to be better prepared for that. Before I start talking about all that, I'm going to recap my Madison and Mexico Regionals performances, during which I piloted the same Vespiquen list.
- 4x Vespiquen
- 4x Combee
- 2x Klefki
- 4x Unown
- 3x Shaymin EX
- 1x Zorua
- 1x Zorua
- 2x Zoroark
- 2x Eevee
- 1x Vaporeon
- 1x Oranguru
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 1x N
- 2x Lysandre
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Acro Bike
- 2x Special Charge
- 1x Revitalizer
- 2x Float Stone
- 2x Forest of Giant Plants
- 2x Choice Band
- 1x Rescue Stretcher
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
What you guys see here is the Vespiquen list that Michael Pramawat used to win the Madison regional championships. I was working on the deck in the lobby of the hotel I was staying at with fellow CCGCastle teammates Ryan Sabelhaus and Jimmy Pendarvis along with Some1sPC's Azul Garcia Griego when Michael Pramawat came downstairs in passing. He sat down, picked up the deck, and asked if he could play it the next morning. We came to the same conclusions on the 2 card changes to be made and we proceeded to begin our run at Madison Regionals.
Now those of you who have read other articles that I have put out know that I love the Eeveelutions and their versatility when it comes to aiding in certain matchups. I'm always scared of Volcanion, so Vaporeon was an instant inclusion for me and as the night went on I was hearing more and more talks of Lurantis paired with Tapu Bulu-GX for the next day. With already having Eevees, I chose to throw the Flareon in because it would take a matchup that might be close and transform it into what I would consider to be an autowin. Due to this, Michael Pramwat and I were also well equipped to deal with the slew of Metagross decks that arose out of the woodwork.
This card is the most cut-worthy from the deck. While it aids in getting Pokémon into the discard quickly and reliably, they're regrettably dead cards in the current metagame. Mega decks are nowhere to be found and there are a plethora of decks that are considered very good right now. Moving forwards, I am more than likely cutting the Klefkis completely in favor of more tech cards towards other matchups.
Oranguru was lackluster the last time I played the deck in Anaheim regionals, but that was due to Garbodor being a threat--well, the ability-lock Garbodor. It still exists today but it's much easier to deal with and if the opposing player uses a Trubbish to ability-lock you, then it is one less attacker that you have to deal with. Oranguru is a very strong card right now because almost every deck is sporting 3-4 copies of N and maybe even a single copy of Delinquent. Late game N is more punishing than ever, with Trainer's mail beoming a thing of the past, so Oranguru is a very good card and I expect it to make its way into more decks moving forward.
1 Revitalizer/ 1 Rescue Stretcher
Revitalizer has instant combo potential with Forest of Giant Plants, allowing you to set up an attacker out of nowhere, which is why I think the deck still warrants a copy of one. Rescue Stretcher has a similar combo potential but with any Pokémon in your discard. It also acts as a Super Rod if you need it to, and the versatility is simply overlooked. In Ryan Sabelhaus' intital set review, I stated that Rescue Stretcher was the best card in the set not named Choice Band and Tapu Lele-GX, and 2 months later I believe that statement has been proven in the way decks are built and seeing success.
2 Choice Band
Silver Bangle used to be one of the best cards to ever exist in Vespiquen; Muscle Band always paled in comparison; but Choice Band puts both to shame. Being able to minimize resources used and take early-game knockouts is an amazing thing to have again. Shaymin+Choice Band puts 60 damage on something, which puts it in KO range instantly. Tapu Lele+Choice Band sets up for cleaning up something that you've already poked with a Zoroark or Vespiquen. Choice Band has given Vespiquen the fire power it needed to become a Tier 1 deck again.
Considerations moving forwards:
1 Tapu Koko Promo
The Tapu Koko promo softens up everything you need to do early damage to and it's the best opener in the deck. Most decks will struggle with knocking it out early so you can usually get 2 Flying Flip attacks off before they really get rid of it, and all you're committing is a DCE which you effectively have 8 of.
As Oricorio and Espeon-GX continue to rise in popularity, playing a copy of Machoke would eliminate their ability to use Supernatural Dance for a massive swing turn or even the Divide GX for that purpose. It also helps vs. Decidueye if you can get it out under item lock.
1 Mewtwo EVO
Adding a single copy of Mewtwo EVO can help your Espeon-GX matchup tremendously as long as you can find your choice band in tandem. While this is one of my lesser tech options it would find its way into my deck if I expect a ton of Espeon Garb.
My teammate Jimmy Pendarvis played a copy of Teammates in his Top 8 Madison list and it clearly worked out for him. It could prove to be very useful for consistency through a large tournament where small mistakes are extremely punishing. This is the most likely addition to the deck moving forward.
So going into Madison, I was very ready to play my favorite deck and hopefully have a good showing. I played out a grueling Day 1 including a heartbreaking loss to Jay Lesage on the official stream on Round 6. Here were my matchups Day 1.
Round 1 vs Sylveon WLW
Round 2 vs Volcanion (Ahmed Ali) WLW
Round 3 vs VikaBulu WLW
Round 4 vs Decidueye/Ninetails WW
Round 5 vs Lurantis/Bulu WW
Round 6 vs Drampa/Garb (Jay Lesage) LL
Round 7 vs Decidueye/Ninetails (Aaron Tarbell) LL
Round 8 vs Drampa/Garb WW
Round 9 vs VikaBulu LWT
Takeaways from the first day were huge for my tournament run the next day and to understanding the rest of the format. Oricorio was a card that many players had splashed into their decks assuming that it would just win them the Vespiquen matchup outright, but that simply wasn't the case. The card was easy to play around once I had figured out how to do so. My first real mistake against Oricorio was when I played Jay Lesage, but the game was still winable had I not discarded both of my Special Charges early in the game.
It was my first time playing against the Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu deck as well. I assumed that the matchup would be extremely easy, but it was a lot closer than I imagined. Tapu Wilderness GX was really a pain, and getting to the one-shot threshold on Tapu Bulu was a lot harder than I imagined: 170 is a relatively easy number to hit, but 180 is much harder. They also had one-prize attackers of their own, and if they played the Vikavolt-GX you weren't going to be one-shotting that monstrosity anytime soon.
Round 9, I played against the deck when it was sporting a single copy of Fighting Fury Belt and that made the matchup into a 55/45 because I was struggling to one-shot the Tapu Bulu for a few turns. I managed to 2-0 a Decidueye, which is my worst matchup, because I got an insanely good Turn 1 going first and established an early Flareon and began running through his board. The second game, I was also fortunate in the fact that he was drawing poorly and I managed to set up normally taking the game. Against Aaron Tarbell, I wasn't nearly as fortunate, as he set up and I was drawing poorly, taking a hard loss. With all this in mind I went into Day 2 as the 32nd seed hoping to make an incredible run into the Top 8.
Round 10 vs VikaBulu WW
Round 11 vs Mirror WLW
Round 12 vs Metagross (Chris Schemanske) WLL
Round 13 vs Zoroark/Drampa (Danny Altavilla) LWL
Round 14 vs Lurantis/Bulu WW
I finished up the 2nd day in 15th place earning a Top 16 spot and being just a single game away from a Top 8 berth. My matchup against Christopher Schemanske's Metagross deck should be favored due to the Flareon, but in the second game I was draw/passing and lost quickly. The third game was a culmination of poor draws that stalled my Flareon being played until almost Turn 5, followed by Christopher having the Hex and Lysandre in back-to-back turns to take out the Flareon and establish a complete set up. I managed to get down to 2 prizes but made the fatal error of taking them with Zoroark instead of Vespiquen and he laid the dagger into me with a back-breaking Karen, taking out my only attacker that doesn't rely on Pokémon in the discard. The following turn he played an N to which I (unsurprisingly) drew a hand full of Pokémon for the next few turns while he knocked out my entire board. Against Danny Altavilla, I believe that the Zoroark matchup is fairly even, and that it comes down to the very late game and who draws better off their N. I would have won the series if not for Game 1 Danny ripping the Teammates off an N to 1 to seal my fate.
With a 14-round tournament of experience drilled into me, I prepared for Mexico the following week. I headed to the airport to meet up with Ryan Sabelhaus and we took a long flight to Mexico. Due to some weather conditions we were diverted to an airport about 5 hours away and we were panicking to say the least. After a few hours of sitting on the tarmac we were back in the air and towards our original destination. We got to our hotel around 2 AM and met up with the rest of the US players to see what they were liking. They were all talking about Zoroark and Darkrai and I knew that I didn't want to play either of those decks. I was too tired to think about anything else and I decided prematurely that Vespiquen would be the deck I play. Azul and Brad Curcio came with me and Ryan and made an effort to convince us to play Decidueye/Vileplume with them, and I thought about it, but ultimately didn't. The next morning we got to the venue and Ryan also chose to play the deck with me. We knew that the field would be good for us as long as we dodged the Decidueye decks in the room, which happend to be a majority of the American players.
Exhausted but confident in my deck choice, I prepared to play a tournament in a foreign land.
Round 1 vs Metagross
The first game was relatively uneventful as I just slowly took out all of his attackers and set up a Flareon. I didn't see anything other than a Karen but I recovered and took the game.
I began to employ the same strategy but this time he played down an Oricorio instead of a Karen and I was confused as to why he played both. It took a single prize to which I responded with a Lysandre/KO on his Metagross and the game was over from there. Oricorio didn't do anything for him but a timely Karen might have taken this game to a tie.
Round 2 vs Tauros/Drampa/Garbodor
When my opponent flipped over a Tauros I had no idea what to expect but after his initial turn I realized it was just Drampa Garb with a Tauros tech. I managed to clear through the Tauros and Drampa with a tandem of two shots and he went searching for the Oricorio. After he took a single prize with it I was able to end the game with a Lysandre on his Tapu Lele-GX.
This game he made it abundantly obvious that he was prioritizing the Oricorio as he used his Brigette to grab it on Turn 1. It was useless all game and provided more Zoroark damage as I cleaned up all of his threats, and once I was up 3 prizes to his 0 taken, I began to go in with Vespiquen and finish off the game before Oricorio ever became relevant.
Round 3 vs Vika/Bulu
The first game was a blur as the matchup is close and I remember going down to 2 prizes with no EX or GX Pokémon on board and him going down to 2 as well and I was going to win no matter what. He proceeded to Fan Club and grab an Oricorio to finish off the game and I was in complete shock. I didn't expect it and played recklessly into it throughout the game.
Knowing that my opponent played this allowed me to play the two-shot game and take it slower rather than be reckless and I took a quick game.
The third game I set him up for a play to take 2 prizes with Oricorio but in doing so he allowed me to get enough damage in the discard to take out anything on his field and that sealed the game. In this matchup Oricorio was more of a detriment that an aid to my opponent.
Round 4 vs VikaBulu (Streamed)
This match was streamed on the oficial PokeMex twitch channel, I assume the VODS will be on YouTube soon.
The first game was brutal for me, as I had to pitch a ton of resources early and had to go aggressive, hoping to draw my one of my last two Vespiquens out of my prize cards to seal the game. I managed to get down to 2 Prize cards and both of my remaining Vespiquens were in there, so I quickly conceded and we moved to the second game.
I was putting way too much aggression on him this game, achieving the magical 180 damage for the one-shot on his Tapu Bulu by my very second turn. Once I had taken out his second Tapu Bulu, he conceded the game.
This game was one of the weirdest ones I have played. He set up his board on Turn 1 leaving a Grubbin active that I managed to take a KO on, and he evolved the bench Grubbin to a Charjabug, all the while attaching energies to his Tapu Lele-GX rather than his Tapu Bulu-GX. I proceed to Lysandre and KO the Charjabug, leaving his board devoid of any Vikavolt or any way to get one. He drew and benched a Grubbin and proceeded to Brock's Grit the rest of the pieces into his deck. Then he used Ultra Ball and grabbed a Tapu Koko Promo rather than another Grubbin. This made my turn very simple, as I just played Lysandre for his Grubbin and took it out, knowing that I just won the game. I then KO'd the only thing on his board with energy on it which was his Tapu Lele and I went down to one prize card. From there he proceeded to N me and hoped that I drew dead, but I had a small deck and 2 DCE left, so I drew out of it the turn after the N and ended the game.
Round 5 vs Sam Chen (Lycanroc/Raichu)
Sam and I are very good friends and I knew he had secured his Day 2 invite so he was going to play a fun deck during the event. He had settled on Lycanroc/Raichu and was doing surprisingly well with it until he ran into me.
The first game started with me having a decent start and using N to put Sam at a fresh 6 cards; he drew, attached a Strong to his Rockruff, and proceeded to do 30 damage to my active. I drew, retreated and attached a DCE to my Lele to take the KO and end a quick Game 1.
The second game was a little closer but I was able to constantly stream DCE and respond in kind, and Sam managed to miss for a single turn. I had taken a Lycanroc KO as well, so I was way too far ahead for him to recover that distance, and it was a quick second game as well.
Round 6 vs Speed Darkrai
The list that was used was an indentical copy of Robin Schulz's one from earlier this season that he played highly at a Special Event with.
The first game I had prized two DCE, so I was resorting to using Sky Return with a Choice Band to add damage. I took my first two prizes and didn't get a DCE. My attacker was taken out and with that I was left with a single DCE. I had to Special Charge for a single one and then I played Sycamore and managed to hit it to take another 2 prize cards on his Darkrai-EX. One of those was a DCE this time. He proceeded to N and use Oblivion Wing, leaving my Vespiquen alive as well. I simply attached another DCE to a benched Vespiquen and took my 5th prize. He conceded, knowing that he couldn't win that game.
This game was much smoother as I didn't have any game-losing prize cards and I set up normally. I took the first prize with Zoroark on his Yveltal, and then two-shotted a Darkrai-EX. After that point, I was one-shotting his entire board and the game ended in a manner of a few turns.
Round 7 vs Zak Krekler (Greninja)
At this point I was secured a berth in the 2nd Day of play and wanted to ID to make sure I didn't miss for some reason. After talking with Azul and Ryan I decided to play it out to learn what is in this undefeated Greninja deck that was dominating this tournament alongside me. In a position like this, while you may be thinking along the same lines as me and want to ID, its always better to play it out because those extra points will be crucial to winning the tournament.
The first game, both of us set up as normal but before he took a single prize I had already taken 3 and made sure not to activate his Splash energies leaving him with only 2 breaks on board. Once I had left him with one, he knew it was over and the game ended.
This game was very similar to the first, with me having two turns to take out a Talonflame that I couldn't take out giving him an attack and a duplicate turn. I was able to go up heavily on prizes again and when Greninja has to keep using Ace Trainer or N and hoping to hit what they need off those cards you can usually just roll them over which is what I did. It came down to a 2-1 prize game but I'm fairly confident I would have won if I had another round as well.
Round 8 vs Ryan Sabelhaus (60card mirror)
Ryan and I had both locked ourselves into the second day and I really didn't want to play this matchup out because he's one of my best friends and I didn't mind just giving each of us an extra point moving into the next day. Had I delivered Ryan with a win or loss he would have also been in the Decidueye GX bracket of players and surely suffered a loss.
Round 9 vs Xander Pero (Espeon/Garb)
The first game I wasn't able to really draw anything and Xander pretty much dominated me the entire game, I think I attacked once the entire game.
This game was looking similar to the first one as I was benching a Pokémon that would just get knocked out every turn but I was able to finally get an attack off once Xander had dropped down to 3 prizes. The prize count was 6 to 1 and I was going to lose but I had only one hope. I had to use N this turn and hope he didn't draw an energy so he could one shot me with his Tapu lele on the bench. I did just that and he whiffed for the first turn. Then I was able to Lysandre and take out the Tapu Lele GX on his bench. He still simply needed an energy to end the game with his Garbodor but I was able to N again and attack twice to end the game taking a close nail biter that I thought I was surely going to lose.
I offer the ID at this point because I was playing poorly due to exhaustion and I knew that I was prone to making misplays. He declined and we set up for the third game.
I set up normally this game and Xander began to stumble a little bit, once I had completed my set up I just started rolling him and his late game N wasn't enough to stop me from taking a swift and decisive Game 3.
All said and done I was 8-0-1 at the end of the day. I found it fitting that it was the same record that I had in Orlando at the end of Day 1, which was my first regionals of the season. We finished pretty early too allowing us time to hang out and do things, we didn't really go out because it began storming just as we had finished so we ate at some cafe that was pretty below average and then called it a night. I was pretty exhausted because I passed out the moment I took out my contacts without even changing clothes for the night. I woke up the next morning for the second day feeling refreshed and ready to go unlike the drowsy groggy mess I was the first day. We swung by the convinience store and grabbed some water for the day and headed in to play the second day.
Round 10 vs Danny Altavilla (Zoroark/Drampa)
We sat down to start this round and the judges did a surprise deck check while we had all prepared to set up which is pretty cool in my opinion. Once that had concluded we began our grudge match from the previous weekend in Madison.
The first game Danny was drawing a little below average and had to go for Turn 2 Big Wheel which I was unable to stop with an N. I did a ton of damage and let him keep his hand which he played an attachment and evolved to one Zoroark and then used N on us both. His Big Wheel GX was pretty bad and from there the game spiraled out of control for him and I dominated that one.
The second game was a neck and neck game coming down to 2 prizes each and Oricorio woul end the game right then and there and I knew it too. He proceeded to play teammates to grab the Oricorio and end the game but I had knocked it out once and there was both Stretcher in the discard so I knew he wouldn't be able to end it there. He grabbed two cards and Righteous Edge'd off my DCE. I proceeded to whiff the VS seeker for N or Lysandre to end the game so I went ahead and attached to active and swung. In the process of digging for the Lysandre to end the game I benched a Shaymin for 4 and that now could be game losing for me. I ask Danny if he has the game and he flashes Lysandre and I ask if he has a DCE and he doesn't. He proceeds to N us both down to a low count and Righteous Edge my 2nd DCE away while I have a 3rd on Board. I have a special charge and 2 Vs Seeker in a 13 card deck so I'm not too worried with Oranguru. I draw my 1 from the N and it was the DCE to end it right there. My next card was the Special Charge and the 3rd being the VS Seeker so I had very high odds to hit it but it was a close second game that ended in my favor barely.
Round 11 vs Azul Garcia Greigo (Decidueye/Vileplume)
That last win effectively secured my Top 8 berth with a pair of IDs that I would be sure to attain. This matchup was the worst of the entire tournament and I chose to play it out with Azul knowing I would lose anyways but I had to make an effort to knock him out even knowing he was one of my best friends, I had to eliminate him if I wanted to win the tournament.
I had a pretty good set up but Azul went right for my Flareon and the game went off the rails from there as it should.
I went too aggo and Azul realized that with his Drampa GX he could simply take away all 4 of my DCE under Plume lock and I would just lose the game, which is exactly what happened.
Round 12 vs Ryan Allred (Volcanion)
That last game was an expected loss so I wasn't too upset, it also ensured that me and Azul would be very high seeds in the Top 8 and dodge each other for a while.
This round I sit across the table downpaired to a 26 pointer in Ryan Allred playing Volcanion and he knows this matchup is really bad for him. I offer the ID because he would need one to make Top 8 alongside a win either way and I want him in the cut due to a favorable matchup.
Round 13 vs Alex Krekler (Greninja)
I offer the ID to put Alex at 28 Match points and leave him in a similar position just needing a win to make Top 8 but after some thought he decides that he needs to take the risk and play it out to get that win now.
The first game goes exactly as expected with me dominating his board early and towards the late game he runs out of resources to keep streaming Ninjas while I take out the rest of his board and seal the game.
This game wasn't the best for Alex and I begin to steamroll him and his only way to win the game was to Bubble me 19 times in a row and then I would deck out. He proceeded to hit 7 heads in a row and I started sweating a little bit but then he hit that one tails and I took my last prize card to win the game securing me a Top 8 berth.
Round 14 vs Christian Cruz (Garbodor/Drampa)
I didn't need to play this round out and my opponent needed a single tie to make the Top 8 so I decided it was fine to take a tie here and grab a quick bite to eat before Top 8 began.
Top 8 vs Xander Pero (Espeon/Garb)
The first game is less than ideal for me and I struggle to set up the majority of the game allowing Xander to sweep my board and I lose a quick first game.
The second game I set up properly and Xander is struggling to get anything to respond to my quick aggression and I take the second game very quickly.
The third game I Set Up twice for low cards I think 2 both times and still don't draw a playable card and roughly 6 turns of Draw and Passing later Xander took the victory and moved into the Top 4.
Looking back at the tournament there isn't a single card I would change about my list. The occasional dead draws happen but thats with any deck and it was unfortunate that it had to happen to me in top 8 but I can't be too upset about that. Going into the NA IC the Vespiquen deck is my top choice because I consider myself to be one of the best in the world with the deck but its a very difficult deck to pilot and I wouldn't suggest it to just anyone to play. If you're still here and have stuck with this article or skipped right down to these subheaders you know that the other two options that I'm considering for NA IC are Greninja and Darkrai/Dragonair.
Now why am I considering Greninja? Well the deck may have its flaws but everygame it sets up it beats anything that isn't Green in this current format. Green being Decidueye and Vespiquen. Greninja has an extremely favorable matchup agaisnt Garb decks, Zoroark and Metagross which I think are all going to be extremely popular. Here's the list that I would play at cups or NA IC coming up.
- 3x Greninja BREAK
- 4x Greninja
- 4x Frogadier
- 4x Froakie
- 2x Ultra Ball
- 3x Repeat Ball
- 4x Dive Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x N
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 1x Fisherman
- 1x Lysandre
- 2x Super Rod
- 3x Choice Band
- 2x Max Potion
- 2x Field Blower
- 2x Ace Trainer
- 1x Rare Candy
- 6x Water Energy
- 4x Splash Energy
The final deck that I have on the docket for you guys is Darkrai/Dragonair which is a personal pet deck of mine that I've been having a lot of fun with.
Unleash the Beast
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 3x Darkrai EX
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 1x Hoopa EX
- 1x Giratina EX
- 1x Tyrantrum EX
- 3x Dratini
- 2x Dragonair
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 3x N
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 3x Level Ball
- 1x Super Rod
- 1x Karen
- 2x Hex Maniac
- 2x Lysandre
- 3x VS Seeker
- 3x Altar of the Moon
- 1x Pokémon Fan Club
- 2x Professor's Letter
- 2x Fighting Fury Belt
- 10x Darkness Energy
- 4x Double Dragon Energy
THank you guys for reading my article I'll be at the NA IC coming up and be sure to follow me on twitter @thefleeee and come to CCGCastle.com and use promo code CCGTEAM5 for 5% off your next order.
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