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Rahul Reddy

I'm on Fire: Looking at Volcanion in both Formats

Rahul goes over his Fort Wayne and Hartford regional championship runs and explores Standard moving forward

10/09/2017 by Rahul Reddy

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Hello again 60cards readers! I know it's been a long time since I wrote an article; in fact, I think I haven't written one since the World Championships. Roughly six weeks of the new season have taken place and both formats have had at least one major tournament in them fleshing out a metagame for everyone watching from home. With Daytona on the horizon (or conluded depending on when this gets published) as well as Vancouver right around the corner, both formats have no rest when it comes to major tournaments. After those two, however, we take a breather and wait until the London IC where the new set is legal and there is plenty of room for shenanigans to occur. I was in the midst of Hurricane Irma and wasn't really able to do much about that so now I'm ultra swamped with homework and exams via school to make up for the untimely break I was granted. I'm going to use this article as a mind dump for everything that has been going on in the past few weeks and how I aim on moving forward for both formats as I sit at 210 CP, over half way to my World Championships invitation. 

Fort Wayne Regionals

Leading up to Fort Wayne I had most of my focus set towards the World Championships where I went out with a bust on the first day of competition, so I didn't really have much time to look at expanded. I had my best placement with fire, so I decided to revisit the deck that I was infatuated with. Franco Takahashi pitched to me an idea with heavy fire energy and scorched earth and entirely focusing on Turtonator-GX, which I really liked due to Turtonator-GX's high damage output. With the magic number being 180 in expanded, I decided to cut the Fighting Fury Belts in favor of Muscle Band to make numbers perfect across the board. I sent the list that Franco handed me to Michael Slutsky who pumped a few hours into it and sent back to me once I had adjusted back to the norm of things after worlds. I was able to pump a solid few days into the deck making minor adjustments to it to streamline the consistency and securing the matchup spread. I just wanted to have a deck that set up consistently every single game that I played it and did its own thing regardless of what deck I was facing across the table. In the penultimate moments Sam Chen joined the Turtle Army and we had a power squad playing the deck. Myself, Ryan and Kyle Sabelhaus, Sam Chen, and Michael Slutsky all decided to commit to it and hope for the best. Without further ado here's the list that we all used. 

To many of you this list looks familiar as it was the most hype deck to emerge from the main event on the back of Sam Chen's second place finish. Allow me to explain some of my decisions behind the cards in the list when I created the brew that all of us took to a Top 128 finish or better in a field of over 800 Masters. 

2 Muscle Band/0 Fighting Fury Belt/0 Choice Band

This is going to be the first thing I discuss because it is the question that I was asked the most following the reveal of the decklist. The idea behind Muscle Band is that 160+20 would be enough to KO a Seismitoad-EX or a Darkrai-EX under a silent lab or Hex Maniac lock. Coincidentally, having a Muscle Band on Turtonator and a single Steam Up was all that was needed to OHKO a Trubbish and put Garbodor decks in a precarious position. Muscle Band also gave good numbers in the Night March matchup so the decision was clear at the end of the day. I really liked bringing Muscle Band back and a number of other good players had the same idea in their own decks such as Garbodor. 

1 Ho-Oh-GX

I threw Ho-Oh in because why not. I think getting the Ho-Oh-Kiawe combo off in the Turbo Dark matchup almost secures you a win right then and there. The Kiawe onto Ho-Oh also secures you the Toad matchup. But in most other matchups, Ho-Oh is useless. I found myself discarding it far too often, as I didn't play against a single Darkrai deck throughout the tournament. In the single Toad matchup, I was able to use him to peak performance and sweep my opponent's field with relative ease. 

1 Karen

I wanted an answer to Night March heading into a tournament of this size. I know a handful of top caliber players including Michael Pramawat who naturally gravitate to Night March when nothing else seems appealing to them. I always feel like Night March will have a presence in an expanded format, so I don't feel comfortable without an answer to the deck. I wanted Oricorio but after testing I realized how awful of a starter the card was, so I decided that Karen would be better, because of the multiple uses as well. Eventually Night march can't keep up with the Karen every turn into a Shell Trap or a KO from a baby Volcanion. The Karen was enough to swing the matchup, but Night March obviously still can overwhelm the deck as witnessed in the finals of the regionals, due to Sam's lackluster start in game three. 

3 Scorched Earth

With 16 fire energy in the deck, this seemed like the most natural pairing of stadium. It allows you to have draw through a Toad lock or a Trev lock as well. Being able to have a single Steam Up, two draws from Scorched Earth, and other dig such as Shaymin-EX almost always secures the deck a turn one Blacksmith or Kiawe, which is all you're really looking for in any game. Late game, if my stadium ever stuck I would almost always have fires to use Scorched Earth and find more cards, which was amazing. Skyfield was uneeded in this format with a Turtle focused variant and I adapted as such. 

16 Fire

Now you might be thinking, "why are you playing 16 fire? Is this a theme deck?" The answer is no to being a theme deck, but I found through testing that 16 fire was actually the magic and vital number. I tested going down to 15, and I felt like I could never find that last fire for a Steam Up when I needed it or to use my Scorched Earth and progress my board state even more. When I went up to 17 I felt like I had nothing but fire in my hand, and the deck felt clunkier. I don't know why, but 16 was the perfect number for me. Nico Alabas won the Special event piloting 17 fire this past weekend in Bilbao, but his list was more focused on getting a turn one Kiawe onto a Ho-Oh almost every single game, which makes sense to utilize extra energy. 

So let's get into my tournament report and how I lost my penultimate round to not make Day 2 to a mirror match (which is actually the worst thing in the world to play if you didn't know). 

So I get to the event and I'm confidently locked into my deck choice and it becomes reaffirmed by the fact that everyone is on this hype train called Golisopod/Garbodor. I forgot that Blend energy existed and how much of an impact it would have that weekend was ridiculous. I knew that Azul and Brad, two of my testing group, were set on Necrozma/Garbodor, and that was a very tricky matchup from what I tested with them. I was confident that other people wouldn't be piloting that variant, and I sleeved up my deck and began looking for Rainbow Turtonator GXs for my deck. 

Round 1 vs Gardevoir-GX 

This matchup was one that I had no idea how to play because I didn't expect this deck to make an impact in expanded. I realized that I just had to overwhelm them with force and just out pace them, because they still were a stage two deck, and I wasn't. I managed to just run my opponent over in this one and quickly secure a 2-0 (1-0)

Round 2 vs Christopher Schemanske (Espeon/Garb)

Game 1

The first game I manage to get into a position where all I need to swing the game back into my favor is a Muscle Band so that I can take out his Espeon-GX and leave him with just a Garbodor that can't do enough damage to take out my Turtonator-GX. I Colress for a solid nine and hit the Computer Search to go find my Muscle Band and secure the game. To my dismay, both the Muscle Band in my deck were prized and I instantly scooped the game, because I knew I wouldn't be able to do anything starting the next turn against his fully loaded Espeon-GX. 

Game 2

The second game went much more in my favor as I just began doing massive amounts of damage before he could do anything. Once I grabbed my third prize off the back of a KO on his Garbotoxin Garb, he scooped it up knowing that he couldn't keep my damage under control, and I could knockout anything that he presented into the active spot from there on out. 

Game 3

In a turn of unfortunate events, I opened a hand that I had to Juniper away that had I believe six items in it. That led to me to be down to a massive disadvantage throughout the entire game as he ignored the Espeon-GX and went for 4 Trubbish on his first turn. As I stared down a massive army of Garbodor, I floundered to find anything but the damage was racking up and the trades just weren't favorable for me because of the early items I had to dump. I quickly lost this game where even though I only had 2 prizes left to take, I was never in a position where I could win. I Nd him low and had to have it stick for three turns I believe, and it didn't even stick for one with him finding the energy for an attack. (1-1)

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