Experts' corner

Rahul Reddy

Dragons and Bees in the Amazon: A Look Ahead to Brazil

Rahul presents two standard decks he believes are very strong going into the Brazil Intercontinentals.

04/18/2017 by Rahul Reddy


Hey again 60cards readers! I'm back today to talk to you about two decks that I think are very strong heading into the rest of the standard season: Darkrai/Dragons and Vespiquen. Both of these decks are ones that I have found myself having success with this season and it's no shock to anyone that I enjoy playing Vespiquen. Dark/Dragons, or DD as I'll call it for short, was revolutionized by Kenny Britton's win in Anaheim and then was adapted by Jimmy Pendarvis to the list that I will be talking about today. Jimmy and Brad Curcio both took it to a league cup win and then Tony Jiminez took the exact same list to a Top 8 berth at the Utah Regional Championships that just concluded.

Vespiquen hasn't had much success this season outside of a few select players performing exceedingly well with the deck itself, but I believe in the right meta game the deck has the potential to shine. For example, the London metagame was primed for Alex Hill to take it by storm and the Athens metagame was perfect for Dylan Bryan to come in and almost win a regionals. With all that being said, these two decks are my top picks for League Cups for now and probably for Virginia Regionals, which is a month away. 


The first deck we'll talk about today is Darkrai/Dragons. This is the list created by Jimmy Pendarvis, used successfully by many players, and the one I'll be taking to my League Cup this Saturday. 

The list has changed a lot since Orlando, hasn't it? The first biggest change is that there isn't Garbodor anymore in the list. The deck has become more of a Darkrai-EX based deck that just happens to have a few Dragons in it. Having Double Dragon Energy in the deck accelerates Darkrai-EX's damage in the early game and Giratina-EX can single handedly win you games with a single Chaos Wheel which is something that is too good to pass up in my eyes. With 4 switching cards and VS Seeker you'll never be stuck with an attacker that you don't want to have in the active spot. Let's talk about a couple of the cards in the list shall we?

0 Float Stone

The biggest exclusion from this list that previous itterations had is Float Stone. Almsot every build was presumed to play Float Stone because the card was an obvious inclusion but the card was lackluster in a deck like this where all you have are attackers and you can discard your Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX with Parallel City. Float Stone became obsolete in favor of better switching cards.

2 Escape Rope/1 Switch

The Float Stones from the previous builds became these switching cards. I personally am a huge fan of the Rope and Switch split because a lot of the time your opponent can't really play around the Escape Rope. Tauros-GX being in the format makes Escape Rope an extremely strong card because a lot of decks play Tauros in order to answer the early game weakness from Darkrai-EX based decks. The one Switch is very nice because it sometimes doesn't force an awkward situation where you don't want your opponent to get their Pokemon out of the active spot before you can deal with it. 

10 Dark

Historically lists have played 9 Dark as opposed to 10, but throughout testing I have found that the 10th energy does in fact make a difference. The energy is important in adding to Darkrai's damage and especially when attempting to hit those early game Max Elixers. The one card can be cut for another supporter but I would prefer it be a 10th Dark almost every time. 

Let's cover some of the matchups that I believe that the deck has moving forwards with the big meta decks.

Mega Mewtwo 65-35

Most of the Mewtwo lists have been either cutting Garbodor in favor of Wobbuffet or playing Espeon-GX over the Hex Maniac that makes the deck a problem for Darkrai Dragons. With a single Chaos Wheel while setting up Darkrai-EX to OHKO the Mewtwo EXs that your opponent has on their field the whole game plan of Mewtwo is stopped. They can't Damage Change because they can't put a stadium down which leaves their Mewtwos vaunerable. 

Speed Dark 55-45

This entire matchup comes down to whether or not the Turbo Dark player is playing Enhanced Hammer or not. If they aren't you can go extremely aggressive with Salamence EX in the early game and pick up a bunch of prizes. They have to bench a lot of EXs to play their game and Salamence will capitalize on that fact. If both players sit back and Oblivion Wing for a few turns, you will still win because you have the Double Dragon Energies to ramp damage faster than them. 

Vespiquen 70-30

This is one of the decks most favorable matchups because you pretty much just have to say the words "Chaos Wheel" and they struggle to do anything. Once you set up 2 Giratina-EX the Vespiquen player will struggle to do anything unless they get enough DCE on the board and begin to do insane amounts of damage to threaten your Giratina-EX. 

Mega Gardevoir 35-65

This matchup is unfavorable because Gardevoir has an innate advantage with damage output. They can begin swinging for high amoungs of damage and if they play a Kukui they can actually one shot your Darkrai. In tandem with Fairy Drops, taking a knockout on Gardevoir is a lot more difficult than it seems. 

Decidueye/Vileplume 40-60

This matchup is almost entirely dependant on the coin flip. If you can win the flip and have a good turn one where you get a couple of Exp Shares and tools onto your board the matchup becomes favored. You have to play this matchup similar to how you would a Turbo Darkrai deck but use the Giratina to get the extra damage onto the board. If they play a Tauros the game can be difficult if they find it early. Ideally you can Oblivion Wing for a little while while accumulating enough damage to steadily two shot their entire board. 

Volcanion 45-55

With the lack of Silent Lab this matchup is actually unfavorable. Salamence-EX makes the matchup close because you can punish the Volcanion player for early aggression and take a quick knockout or two with the Salamence-EX. However there's no real way to stop them from using Steam Up and running through your board. This matchup can be extremely close if you get your Parallel to stick but otherwise I believe that this is unfavorable and you have to hope to draw very well to win this matchup. 


The second deck I want to discuss is a personal favorite of mine and a deck that I've found the most success with in my Pokemon career outside of Blastoise. Most recently I finished Top 4 at the Puerto Rico Special Event with it and had I played the list I will be sharing today I believe I would have won the entire event. This list is similar to Alex Hill and Connor Finton's Anaheim list because I drew the inspiration from theirs. Zebstrika was excluded from lists due to the absence of Yveltal/Garbodor from the metagame but I believe that it will make a comeback moving forwards because the deck is still very strong. 

I've talked about the deck in great detail multiple times but let's take a quick look at what changed from the Anaheim list to this one. 

2-2 Zebstrika

The inclusion of Zebstrika is purely due to Yveltal and Mega Rayquaza. These two decks I feel are in a good place in the current meta game and will have an impact moving forwards especially in Brazil. Zebstrika also gives you an early answer to baby Yveltal in the Turbo Darkrai matchup which can be a problem if you let those pesky birds live too long. 

2-1 Vaporeon

The Eevee line has severly diminished since we last had the list. Jolteon is no longer needed because we play the Zebstrikas and I believe taking the loss to Decidueye/Plume is ok in order to make the rest of the list more consistent so we exclude Flareon from the list. Vaporeon is still needed in my opinion because it helps the Volcanion matchup in the early game a lot. I've had a lot of players ask why not cut the line for more consistency or other Pokemon and I'll stick to Vaporeon being one of the best cards in the deck when faced with Volcanion. It makes Volcanion favorable as I'll discuss later on.

1 Revitalizer/1 Super Rod

In the earlier iterations of this list we played 2 Revitalizer because the deck was focused on getting Vespiquens out in a steady stream in tandem with Forest of Giant Plants. The game plan still hasn't changed but now we have more tools at our disposal. Playing a single Super Rod will make sure that we can stream Zebstrika for the Yveltal matchup and also allow us to grab Vaporeon back in the Volcanion matchup making it rough for them to deal with 2 Vaporeon. 

Let's dive into the matchups because I love talking about these with Vespiquen.

Darkrai/Dragons 30-70

This matchup is one of the worst you can hope for with this deck. Without Tauros and Mew you're banking on going hard early and hoping you can stick 2-3 DCE and take KO's on Giratina EX before they can use Chaos Wheel. If they Chaos Wheel it is lights out if you can't answer with whatever you have on the board. A single bad start will lose you the game.

Mega Rayquaza 80-20

This is probably the most favorable deck that you can ask for playing Vespiquen. Once you get two Zebstrika out paired with Klefki they can't do anything. A few attacks later you both pack up your cards and you circle that win and turn it in feeling satisfied. 

Mega Mewtwo 45-55

This matchup becomes unfavorable when you remove the Mew EX from the deck. A good Garbodor+Parallel+N can end the game for you. Chasing the Garbodor is key in this matchup and if the opponent ever benches a Shaymin you can capitalize and take 2 easy prizes. Doing damage that doesn't allow you to be KO'd due to damage change can also be very big in setting up two shots. Essentially the Garbodor makes this matchup difficult but it is a winnable one.

Yveltal/Garb 65-35

With the Zebra added to the deck the matchup becomes a favorable one. Being able to set up and stream the Zebras can allow you to jump to an early prize lead while getting Pokemon in your discard allowing Vespiquen to eventually one shot their Yveltal. The pressure added from Zebra swings the matchup and puts the ball in your court as opposed to theirs. 

Volcanion 60-40

I'll argue this one for as long as anyone would like to. I believe firmly that this matchup is favorable for Vespiquen with the inclusion of Vaporeon. If you do not prize it and get it out by the 2nd turn of the game Zoroark creates immense pressure and a few Bee Revenges later you've won the series because you don't need much to OHKO their Volcanion EX at that point. If they ever bench a Shaymin EX (which happens a lot if you didn't know) the matchup becomes easier because you can chase that down for an easy two prizes in the early stages of the game. 

Speed Dark 45-55

This matchup is slightly unfavorable because Darkrai EX is very big and difficult to take out. They don't have to bench a Shaymin if they don't want to and if they don't the matchup becomes hard. If they choose to attack early with baby Yveltal you can snag early prizes with Zebra. Zoroark is useful in this matchup because you can pressure them early and reliably set up 2 shots, because they almost always will have a big bench. 

Mega Gardevoir 40-60

You have Klefki to help this matchup but they have Rattata. I think that this is incredibly difficult because they can keep getting rid of the easy prizes on their bench and your Zoroark is absolutely useless in this matchup. If they open a bad starter and you can snag two easy prizes the game can be won easily but overall 210 HP is a lot to be dealing with right off the bat. They can also Fairy Drop and negate all the damage you just tried to do but eventually you will one shot them. They key is to get to that point without losing. 


So that should wrap up my in depth analysis of my two favorite decks at the moment. I unfortunately will not be attending Brazil due to final exams and college being more important, but I plan on attending Virginia, Canada, and Wisconsin regionals and currently planning Mexico City and Seattle out. I have acquired my invitation to this years World Championships so I will see you guys there! Currently I'm on the pursuit for the T16 Day 2 berths that may or may not be offered. That being said be sure to check out my content on the Chaos Gym YouTube as well I would much appreciate it. Until next time, good luck with your cups and Brazil everyone! 

[+14] okko


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