Experts' corner

Rahul Reddy

Freaky Friday in Athens: A Tournament Report and Recap of Athens Regionals

Rahul goes over the Frogs deck that he and Grafton Roll played, and a brief tournament report, before talking about what happened in Athens and why it happened that way.

01/19/2017 by Rahul Reddy


Hey again 60cards readers! It's a pleasure to be back after a hiatus from writing for a while. I've been quite busy with my personal life and the Chaos Gym Youtube channel, which I've been spending a lot of time on, but I really love to write so I'm back for you guys! 

Before I get into the whole tournament experience, I'd like to talk about why I played Greninja after talking about my dislike for the deck through the ages. As everyone knows, I'm very good friends with Grafton Roll, who runs the Chaos Gym with me, and he has a little over 400 CP -- all secured with Greninja this season alone. Going into the last weekend of league cups before Athens I didn't know what to play as I was set on Gardevoir until it ran the show over in Dallas. I decided on Greninja and wanted to give it a shot before I wrote it off completely, seeing my friend's success with the deck, and succesfully piloted the list to a win over Grafton himself in the finals of a cup. Down below is the source for that report because that's not the focus of today. 

After that win, my faith in Greninja was renewed and suddenly I had another option going into Athens. I was torn between a Speed Darkrai deck that the Some1sPC boys piloted to a handful of Day 2 spots and the Greninja list that I played. I was torn all the way up to the morning of the event and hesitantly chose Greninja because I was fresh off a win with the deck. 

Freaky Frogs and Athens

Let me get into the nitty gritty of the deck real fast before I jump into my tournament report, and some of the tech card choices.

1 Bent Spoon

Originally this was a Pokémon Ranger in approaching the mirror match but in the registration line Grafton quickly realized that this card is really good in the mirror because you can Spoon your one Break, and that break will still be able to use abilities even after Shadow Stiching goes off, and this prevents Mewtwo's Damage Change. Sacrificing the matchup to Glaceon EX, we secure ourselves some sort of an out to Mewtwo now. 

1 Professor's Letter

The list has slowly been cutting energy cards in favor of more techs and we were left with 8 energy a 1/7 split so finding early energy could be very hard. The letter was to be able to make plays early game and late game in combination with Super Rod and Giant Water Shuriken. 

The rest of the list seems pretty normal, the Silent Lab being for Giratina Promo -- even if I only saw one the whole day, it made the card worth it in the deck, but let's jump into my tournament report. 

Round 1 vs Mega Gardevoir WW (1-0)
Round 2 vs Mega Mewtwo/Garb WLL(1-1)
Round 3 vs Glaceon/Regice/Snorlax GX/Garbodor LWT(1-1-1)
Round 4 vs Mega Gardevoir Brilliant Arrow/Xerneas/Garbodor WW (2-1-1)
Round 5 vs Turbo Darkrai LL (2-2-1)
Round 6 vs Mewtwo/Garbodor WW (3-2-1)
Round 7 vs Gyarados LWW (4-2-1)
Round 8 vs Volcanion WLW (5-2-1)
Round 9 vs Volcanion WLL (5-3-1)

So, after a long brutal day I finished 5-3-1 at 137th losing my win and T64 to Volcanion in two brutal Froakie Pass games. Throughout the day, I don't regret my deck choice nor how I played, but Froakie Pass is what really ended up killing my tournament run. The Bent spoon played a crucial part in helping me take Game 1 off of Mewtwo in Round 2, but ultimately I couldn't stem the bleeding in the 2nd and 3rd games with less-than-ideal hands and nothing going on for a few turns. 

A few of the decks that I encountered were very hard to deal with from my side as a Greninja player, namely the decks that I faced from Rounds 2 through Round 6. The Glaceon/Garbodor deck was an absolute nightmare to play against and the only reason I was able to pull out a tie was because I was able to use Lyasndre and all 4 VS seekers to kill his 2 Garbodors and his Trubbish and take the game. This game I really missed the Pokémon Ranger, and every time I saw the Spoon I wished it was a Ranger. 

Round 4 was a rollercoaster of a game. In the first game, all he did was open Gardevoir-EX and pass until I was able to win the game, and I thought I was playing vs. a regular Mega Gardevoir deck. But in the second game, he opened Xerneas, and I was incredibly confused. He was able to fill his whole board with energy and we had reached a stalemate where he could start sweeping my board the following turn with his Mega. I counted all his resources and realized that 11 Fairy energy were in play and I couldn't imagine he played more than 12 if any. With my opponent at 6 Prizes still, and about 5 cards in his deck, I brought up his other Xerneas which had no energy on it and passed. He continued to play and I thought he would have the energy and I would just lose, but he didn't and I won through deckout. He flipped over the 12th energy in his prizes after the conclusion of the game and I was relieved I had outlasted that one. 

I was able to play extremely well the whole day with Greninja and I was satisfied with the way I played but there's only so much you can do when you Froakie Pass. I believe throughout the course of all of my games it happened 9 Times where I opened Froakie and had a dead hand and only twice my opponent used N to get rid of my hand and grant me a chance in the game. I really liked the deck over all and if I was to go back and play it again I would make the 3rd balloon into a Rare Candy and the Spoon into a Ranger but other than that I loved the list and it was a blast when it was setting up. Grafton Roll piloted the deck to a Top 16 finish with it as well. 

Revenge of the Bees

Now we arrive at the results of Athens regionals and if you had told me those would be the decks in the Top 8 as of a week ago and bet me $50, I would have taken that in a heartbeat because I did not expect that this would be the result at all. I love Vespiquen a lot and I thought it was unviable with the untimely death of Yveltal/Garbodor in the metagame and Gardevoir rising to prominance. The top 8 showed results that not even the top players could ever expect. With newcomers like Luis Zambrana and Chip Richey piloting Mega Rayquaza into the Top 8 and wiley veterans who haven't played in a while showing up -- Kyle Sabelhaus and Dylan Bryan -- the Top 8 was a true treat to a spectator keeping track from home.

Now comes the real question: why did Vespiquen and Mega Rayquaza become the best decks at this event and in such force? The first reasoning that anyone can use is that matchups were probably extremely important while getting to that position, but it can't all be luck, right? Gardevoir, Volcanion, Speed Dark and Greninja all saw a lot of play at this Regionals which was the prediction. But the Speed Dark players were playing Reverse Valley as opposed to Silent Lab except for Chris Siakala who won the entire event. Mega Rayquaza was an excellent counter deck to all of these now that a majority of decks that thrived off of Parallel City have seen little to no play.

Greninja is still a rough matchup for the sky dragon but you can easily outspeed them and put them on a very early clock which is always scary for a Greninja player. There were two variants of Mega Rayquaza that made the Top 8, one which was a metal variant and one which was a Jolteon-EX variant with lightning. The metal variant was geared to take down Gardevoir as a win-more card while dealing with pesky things like Bubble from a Greninja player. The Magearna promo in the deck also deals with the threat of Rainbow Road which isn't a deck seen much but it can really destroy Mega Rayquaza with the amount of set up it contains. The Jolteon-EX version plays a little slower where you can deal with unorthodox threats like Glaceon EX and Volcanion. I personally prefer the Metal version a lot more than the Lightning one, but I can't argue about Rayquaza's strength in any capicity that it's played in. 

In a world where suddenly Rayquaza became the sleeper deck, the counter to the counter emerged out of nowhere and surprised the field in the form of Vespiquen/Zebstrika. After Alex Hill put the deck on the map, taking London by storm, it was tried out for a few weeks and scrapped by almost everyone due to its inconsistencies and simple trouble dealing with mega Pokémon. However, the die-hard supporters of the card had other ideas, and played it with a renewed passion. All 3 variants that made the Top 8 were radically different, with Dylan Bryan's variant having 1 Shaymin-EX and a 2-2 Octillery line to consistently get to the late game and make the opponent take 6 Knockouts regardless of what they did. Carl Sitavi played no Garbodor and a Vaporeon engine instead to deal with the Volcanion, and take a loss to Greninja. The list that I personally thought was the best variant for this event, barring Dylan's crazy contraption, was William Boatman's list, or as the public knows it, "Wambees."

The list was geared to take down the mega Pokémon that had been plaguing the format by playing two Faded Town in the deck. Just having that 20 damage tick in between turns is a lot of damage -- it plays the role of a Muscle Band vs. Mega decks that seemed almost impossible to one shot and if they ever can't bounce the stadium, that becomes a full 60 damage with just one card. The list cut down to a 2-2 Zebstrika and put all the emphasis on Vespiquen as the deck should, but the Zebstrika still was able to take games off of the Rayquaza players that were unfortunate enough to run into the deck. 

Vespiquen was able to take a convincing run through all of the decks that seemed to be bad matchups throughout the day and succesfully place all of them into Top 8. The Greninja matchup becomes extremely winnable with the Garbodor and there was a good amount of Greninja in the second day of play as well as the first. 


I'm very happy to be writing again and I look forward to talking more about Sun and Moon when it drops because this format is really stale and incredibly matchup based as it stands. There are a lot of decks that are decent enough to Top 8 and over the course of 5 major tournaments with the same format, the fact that so many different decks were able to top 8 means this format is dead and we need a change. I for one am very welcoming of it. Overall, I don't regret the deck choice I made because I probably would have lost to the same decks I did had I played Speed Dark or Vespiquen this weekend. I'm chalking this one up to bad matchups and that one Froakie that kept wanting to be my starter and end me. Thank you guys for all the support at the YouTube and over here and I'm very happy to be here. If you guys enjoyed it please be sure to let me know; I'm still a little rusty but I can't wait to have tons of fun when Sun and Moon drops. That's all for now, but I'll catch you on the flip side.

[+14] okko


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