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Rahul Reddy

The Home Stretch: A States Preparation and Preview Article

Rahul Reddy talks about his thoughts going into the second weekend of State Championships and beyond....

03/24/2016 by Rahul Reddy

Rahul Reddy talks about his thoughts going into the second weekend of State Championships and beyond. He details his Top 3 deck choices and talks briefly about each one in order to better prepare readers for their own experiences in the upcoming weeks.


Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to the latter half of the season where players make that final push to secure their invitations to the World Championships and others begin to realize that their hopes of attending as a participant this year is just a faint dream. My goal today is to help you be prepared for the slew of State Championships that you'll be faced with in these upcoming weeks. Whether you attend just one or all four, the goal is to perform to the best of your ability. None of that "at least I went even" talk around here! I'm here to make sure you get some Championship Points. My name is Rahul Reddy and today I'll be talking to you about my top three deck choices going into the first weekend of State Championships. So without further ado, I'd like to hop right into it.

Before we begin talking about what decks I think will be good, I want to start off with a sort of tier list as to what decks I think will be the most popular this weekend (of course, as usual, feel free to disagree. We are all opinionated beings.) 

Tier 1

  • Night March
  • Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade
  • Trevenant BREAK

Tier 2

  • Mega Rayquaza
  • Greninja BREAK
  • Seismitoad Variants

Tier 3

  • Mega Mewtwo
  • Mega Manectric
  • Garchomp 
  • Entei

So let me briefly explain my thought process behind this tier list. Coming out of cities Night March and YZG had tremendous success and cemented themselves as two of the best decks in standard, with the addition of Fighting Fury Belt these decks only become stronger and their matchups across the board remain excellent. The newcomer to the top of the tier list is Trevenant BREAK, this deck has the potential to seal out your opponent on the very first turn with a Wally's play and that in itself is ridiculous in my opinion. Along with the fact that trainer cards are a key part of consistency in the Standard Format this deck deserves a spot high up, is it Tier 1? Only the results from the first week will tell. 

The second tier of decks are decks that I think are still very good and very playable with poor matchups with the top decks in the 1st tier. Mega Rayquaza has incredible burst potential and can just win the game with early ridiculous amounts of damage as I'll detail later on but has a poor Night March matchup without Altaria. Greninja BREAK also has incredible potential in its comeback abilities and shocking damage output, it's just a slower deck and prone to stumbling during set up. Toad is still around and I think it’s still really good, but Yveltal has a strong Toad matchup especially because Toad no longer has the LaserBank combination in Standard leaving Toad's damage output very undesirable. Toad still has the potential to lock an opponent out and steal games so it can't be underrated.

The third tier is all the misfit decks that have a chance of being played but they aren't the stars of the show. First we have my favorite deck of the misfits Mega Mewtwo. I like this deck simply because of damage change and it's really hard to kill a Mega Mewtwo unless of course you're Night March and it becomes simple. Mega Manectric is worth adding to the discussion simply because Jolteon-EX is a new cute tech that it gains in addition to the already existing Raikou and Regice. The deck's damage output is the only problem but it deals handily with Yveltal. Another card talked about from the new set is Garchomp. Garchomp has incredible potential in my opinion but it just doesn't do enough as of now, it can just get steam rolled by non-EX decks which makes it a poor option moving forward, but in an EX-heavy meta it’s a good choice. Entei is the final deck. With the birth of Greninja, Entei should be all but dead. However, the deck's innate consistency still leaves it in the discussion.

The first deck on the platter today is my personal favorite, the Ninja Frogs. 

The most talked about deck coming into States is Greninja and who am I to not talk about it as well. The idea of the deck is simple yet elegant, you just get an early set up involving Frogadier to use Water Duplicates early and suddenly you're almost completely set up. Let's talk about some of the inclusions in my list that others may not necessarily have.

1 Miltank/1 Dedenne

Personally I love Miltank in this deck and it's just the right stall card that the deck needs while it attempts to get set up, or the big late game hitter you need to close out the game. An interaction you may not be aware of heading into this weekend is that a BREAK Pokémon is not a Stage 2, so if you opponent only has a BREAK on his/her bench and no Stage 2 that means Miltank doesn't get the added damage. I found that out the hard way during online testing, but Miltank is still an excellent card that soaks up damage and takes prizes when it needs to. Dedenne is a card that I like because if your opponent goes for a big Yveltal to try and steam roll through your Frogs, you can just OHKO it with ease. 

1 Ace Trainer

Without N in Standard format Greninja seemed like a deck that would struggle with slowing down your opponent while you set up. But with one Ace Trainer it serves as a more powerful N in the early game and gives you the time you need to get set up hopefully.

1 Max Potion

This card is probably the most expendable when it comes to teching out the deck. I really like it because most decks can't come up with the damage to ever one shot a Greninja BREAK and almost always you'll have no Energy on your Frog until you're ready to swing at the opponent. Max Potion just screams out to me as being an incredible one of techs that could swing the game in a single turn. But the argument always stands that you have to find that one card and you may or may not have discarded it. In my testing it’s proven to be a bigger reward than risk.

Greninja as a whole is one of my favorite decks coming into states. For those who didn't know, I piloted Grafton Roll's Greninja list at Florida Regionals alongside him and three others, my finish being a disappointing 3-3-1 drop due to bad luck and simply drawing poorly across the day. The deck had its flaws in Expanded due to Laser being a card and Archeops, but with those two big threats gone, I think Greninja can truly flourish. It struggles heavily with Trevenant, Mega Rayquaza and a lesser seen deck Mega Sceptile. In the right metagame I think this deck has incredible potential.

The second deck that I want to talk about what inspired by my good friend Kale Chalifoux who showed this to me way before I even started my states preparation and its a competitive and fun option for the first week. 

Now this deck may look different and unorthodox from the Yveltal decks you've seen thus far and that's because it is, this is a more turbo Darkrai variant that utilizes heavy counts of Max Elixir to power up your attackers and do a ton of damage early and create a lot of threats on the board and overload your opponent. The deck is raw consistency aimed at ideally getting just a lot of Energy on board, if you have two Yveltal-EXs or two Darkrai-EXs with an equal amount of Energy your opponent doesn't know how to handle an excess amount of threats. There are very few decks in this format that can efficiently handle multiple threats which this deck capitalizes upon. 

1 Malamar-EX

This friendly squid is in the deck to make sure you have that Dark Head for 160 damage in any portion of the game or even 180 with your Muscle Band which knocks out a lot of things. In a super-late-game scenario, you can even power up this guy and try to flip a couple of heads for the game. He's like a last resort attacker if you absolutely need one. 

1 Toad-EX

“Why is this card in this deck?” you may ask. Well Toad is still a really good card in any deck that uses DCE and Toad still has the incredible potential to slow your opponent down to a standstill while you build your board, it’s a low-risk, high-reward card that fits perfectly in a deck like this that uses Max Elixirs to power up its attackers. 

1 Giovanni's Scheme

This card is really good in a deck like this where damage is everything. Early pressure is key and having an extra 20 damage out of nowhere can get you that KO that seemed out of reach putting your opponent's set up behind where they would ideally like to be. 

1 Muscle Band

This card is pretty self-explanatory; it adds 20 damage. But the count is the reason I'm going to discuss it. With the addition of Fighting Fury Belt and Reverse Valley as a combination, Muscle Band seems all but redundant in this deck. But there will always be situations where Muscle band can turn the game in your favor heavily and just because of that I kept it as a one-of in the deck. 

1 Escape Rope

This card can help you get that beefy attacker you just Max Elixir’d to three times in your first turn off the bench and into the active spot. The most practical use for this card is dealing with the pesky Jolteon-EX that's being talked about right now. Jolteon can single handedly destroy this deck, but with a timely Escape Rope+Lysandre combination you can OHKO it and come back into the game. I don't see many decks playing Jolteon and even if they do any more than one seems insane to me, so it offers you an out for a crazy situation. 

11 Darkness/2 Double Colorless

This might be alarming to many people because of the extremely high counts of Energy. This is necessary when playing Max Elixir because you want to be able to hit those early Energy attachments. I still included two DCE because Darkrai's attack only requires a DCE and Toad and Yveltal-EX can both utilize it. Because of Max Elixir you don't necessarily need to play 4 because more dark on the field is better, but if you feel like you want more DCE you can go ahead and adjust your Energy counts.

The third and final deck that I want to talk about going into States is one that is near and dear to my heart. The deck was originally created and piloted by Grafton Roll during Cities and through many tweaks and adjustments we came to this list towards the end of cities. I took the list and adjusted it with some of the newer cards I think benefit the deck and it seems like it can hold its own versus most of the top decks right now. 

Yeah I know what you're all thinking. "Rahul is talking to us about a Vespiquen deck, how original." While I do have an affinity for Vespiquen and its predecessor Flareon, I bring you this deck because it’s not only Vespiquen, but it's really good. Not to harp too much on the deck itself before I get into it, but it also made an appearance in the T8 of a foreign States this past weekend which was one of the first standard events in this format. 

So what makes this deck different from your everyday Vespiquen? Well in expanded you had the Blacksmith engine to help fuel your secondary attacker in the form of Flareon, but in standard you don't have that. So in its stead this version plays Bronzong as the Energy acceleration and Zoroark as a secondary attacker. Zoroark is really good because a lot of decks revolve around having big benches in Standard with Shaymin being the primary draw card that most decks bench. 

1 Jirachi Promo

This card is an option that I like to have especially when dealing with decks like Toad and Night March in the format. It buys me a turn when I need it and if I don't need it, it’s an extra 10 damage for Vespiquen.

1 Bunnelby

A deck like this exhausts its resources fairly quickly along with a lot of other standard decks, with most running a Trainers Mail and battle Compressor engine for consistency. It’s shocking how many times people leave themselves with 1-2 cards in their deck and how necessary it is sometimes to sit back and Bunny back some resources you ditched earlier in the game.

1 Aegislash-EX 

Aegislash fits into this variant of the deck because you already play Metal Energy. Against gimmicky decks like Vespiquen/Vileplume one Aegislash can win you the game single handedly, even against decks like Night March which only play four DCE with the inclusion of Puzzle of Time, it’s great. It’s an attacker when it needs to be and a wall as well. Coupled with Zoroark you can wall and free retreat into whatever you need for the following turn. 

1 Sacred Ash

During the course of the game you'll be discarding a lot of Pokémon and some of them you'll need back later in the game like Vespiquen, Bronzong, or even Shaymin to help you draw that last key card to seal out the game. So this card is perfect in a deck like this.

1 Revitalizer 

The new card from Generations that makes Vespiquen a threat to be reckoned with. Getting you two Grass Pokémon from your discard to your hand? That seems absurd in a deck that can use battle compressor to put early Combee in the discard and grab them, or even set up for a late game scenario where one Vespiquen wins them the game. This creates an effective 5-5 Vespiquen line to deal with without even factoring in the sacred ash, which is terrifying to think about. 

In summation I love the deck and Vespiquen is a solid card still so give it a consideration when taking deck choices into account for this weekend.

Hopefully I was able to help you guys out a little more with deciding what to play for the next couple of weeks while you make your late season push towards securing your invites. I myself am making that push being 18 CP off of my first Worlds invite, and while I can secure it off of League Challenges, I rarely have time to attend the ones held on weekdays. I'll be at South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida States for these three remaining weekends and if any of you see me there, feel free to say hi or anything. So good luck, have fun, and may luck be with all of you. Until next time, everybody.


[+15] okko


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