From Start to Finish – Dealing with Week-by-Week Regionals

Hey there again PokeBeach! I imagine everyone has been busy testing for Cities in the BREAKthrough format. In the U.K. we are just around the halfway mark of our Regionals, finishing off the last of our XYAOR tournaments last weekend. For this article I though it would be good to look over the unique aspects of week-to-week Regional tournaments including the metagame and how it shifts between different Regionals, the decks I chose from and which build I chose, a quick look at how I did, and finally how each deck I end up playing could be adapted when BREAKthrough is legal for play. I want to focus in on how metagaming in this format seems like one of the biggest differences between reaching top cut and just coming up short – which is why I usually try to work out the correct metagame first and build on deck options afterward. Let’s start at the first Regional in Huddersfield!

Week One – Huddersfield

As I discussed at the end of my last article, I had been looking over the early U.K. metagame through League Challenges and chatting with my U.K. friends on what they thought would be played. From there I made up a list of what I wanted to have at least a 50 / 50 matchup against:

  • M Manectric-EX – A popular choice with many players that seemed to stay strong throughout League Challenges, with inclusions such as Zapdos to counter Regice and Flash Energy to stand a chance against Fighting builds.
  • Giratina-EX Builds – Giratina-EX gained some traction towards the start of Regionals in the U.K. as another go-to deck. The most popular build revolved around Giratina-EX and Seismitoad-EX, which had gotten hype after doing well in Expanded. The pairing creates a disruption and lock based build with attacks like Quaking Punch and Chaos Wheel which limit what your opponent can do during their turn. Giratina-EX’s Renegade Pulse blocks damage from attacks by Mega Evolved Pokemon and multiple disruption cards such as Crushing Hammer and Xerosic remove any board position your opponent manages to achieve. The other build that would see some play was Giratina-EX paired with Aromatisse to gain a more control-based lock by moving Double Dragon Energy and Fairy Energy between Dragon types, picking up Giratina-EX with AZ and then retreating back into it via Fairy Garden. Xerneas lets you accelerate Basic Fairy Energy to move around with Aromatisse and serves as another attacker that also has the advantage of hitting opposing Giratina-EX for Weakness.
  • Vespiquen – Vespiquen is another deck that had a strong showing in Expanded and has the ability to keep up with decks in Standard, albeit without its partner in crime Flareon. Now paired with Flareon AOR to take advantage of Blacksmith and Sacred Ash to maintain a steady stream of Vespiquen to attack with, Vespiquen definitely has the potential to top a Regional.
  • Lucario-EX / Crobat – The main I deck had been testing had also started to see some play, due to its positive M Manectric-EX matchup and strong damage output for a single Energy thanks to all the damage boosting effects such as Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium. Playing a Crobat line also made it much easier to deal with Vespiquen, allowing quick OHKOs before they are able to stabilize.

After thinking about multiple decks I decided the best option for the first Regional would be to stick with Lucario-EX / Crobat as the build at the time was able to go 50 / 50 or better against all the decks listed. Additionally, the only coin flips I would have to make (bar Sleep / Confusion checks) would be deciding who went first or second, which for the first Regional always seems to be a safe way to go. Here is the list I played:




Pokemon (18)

3x Hawlucha (FFI #63)

2x Lucario-EX (FFI #54)

3x Crobat (PHF #33)

3x Golbat (PHF #32)

4x Zubat (PHF #31)

2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

1x Miltank (FLF #83)

Trainers (32)

4x Korrina (FFI #95)

4x Professor Sycamore (XY #122)

2x Lysandre (FLF #90)

1x Ace Trainer (AOR #69)

1x AZ (PHF #91)

 

4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)

4x Ultra Ball (RSK #93)

3x Muscle Band (XY #121)

2x Level Ball (NXD #89)

1x Focus Sash (FFI #91)

1x Enhanced Hammer (DEX #94)

1x Switch (RSK #91)

1x Professor's Letter (XY #123)

 

3x Fighting Stadium (FFI #90)

Energy (10)

6x Fighting Energy (XY #137)

4x Strong Energy (FFI #104)

 

The list is one card off the one I posted last time, exchanging the Xerosic for a sixth Fighting Energy. I decided that playing the extra Energy would benefit me more in other matchups, allowing me to draw an Energy earlier instead of having to Korrina for Professor's Letter which limits the amount of early damage pressure I can put on. It would also help against Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX, giving me an extra Basic Energy to attack with. Xerosic was useful but quite hard to find under Item lock, which also helped my decision in changing it to an Energy. Here is how my run went on the day:

4-2-1, 15th Place

I started off at a strong 3-0-0 without dropping a game. In round four I was a single turn away from beating my opponent Joseph Phillip’s Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX for a tie, and then in round five I drew into my first dead hand of the day with a lone Zubat going the distance and getting 60 damage onto a opposing Giratina-EX before falling. I had a chance of making top cut if I had been able to win my next two games, but ended up meeting Joe Bernard playing M Sceptile-EX / Ariados in round six, which is an appalling matchup for Lucario-EX / Crobat as M Sceptile-EX is immune to any Bat Abilities thanks to Theta Stop. As a result, M Sceptile-EX can usually take two Flying Presses from Hawlucha before retreating into another M Sceptile-EX. Jagged Saber heals all that damage off the benched M Sceptile-EX, attaching a Grass Energy to it in the process. Joe ended up being unable to draw anything useful in game one but was able to get a good set up in games two and three to knock me out of top cut.

If I were to re-play this deck in the XYAOR format, I don’t think I would change the list at all. The deck played as I imagined, and in most of the rounds I lost or tied the games were close and could have gone either way.

Lucario-EX / Hawlucha / Crobat in the XYBKT Format

Lucario-EX / Crobat decks seem to still have a place in Standard after BREAKthrough is released. If M Sceptile-EX stays popular it might be harder to justify playing this deck, however Zoroark / Zoroark BREAK decks might have a problem against this build due to the line’s Fighting Weakness and Zorua’s low HP and would be forced to use mainly Yveltal and Yveltal-EX in this matchup. The main changes would be including one or two new and reprinted Trainer cards to boost consistency and damage.




Pokemon (18)

3x Hawlucha (FFI #63)

2x Lucario-EX (FFI #54)

3x Crobat (PHF #33)

3x Golbat (PHF #32)

4x Zubat (PHF #31)

2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

1x Miltank (FLF #83)

Trainers (33)

4x Korrina (FFI #95)

4x Professor Sycamore (XY #122)

2x Lysandre (FLF #90)

1x Giovanni’s Scheme (BRK #138)

1x AZ (PHF #91)

 

4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)

4x Ultra Ball (RSK #93)

3x Muscle Band (XY #121)

2x Level Ball (NXD #89)

1x Focus Sash (FFI #91)

1x Super Rod (BRK #149)

1x Enhanced Hammer (DEX #94)

1x Switch (RSK #91)

1x Professor's Letter (XY #123)

 

3x Fighting Stadium (FFI #90)

Energy (9)

5x Fighting Energy (XY #137)

4x Strong Energy (FFI #104)

 

The first change is removing Ace Trainer for Giovanni’s Scheme to give the deck an extra +20 damage option which can be a massive boost. For example, Hawlucha with a Strong Energy, Muscle Band and Fighting Stadium in play alongside the 20 damage boost from Giovanni’s Scheme hits 140 damage. After a Crobat drop this can reach the magic 170 HP on a single turn. The only other change is dropping the sixth Fighting Energy for the reprinted Super Rod, effectively giving you access to up to eight basic Energy and also any Pokemon you had to get rid of early or need to re-use in the matchup. Another option could be Jirachi XY67. For a single Colorless Energy, its Stardust attack does 10 damage and discards a Special Energy attached to the opponent’s Active Pokemon; if you do, Jirachi is immune to all effects of attacks during your opponent’s next turn. Against decks that play only Special Energy like Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX or Night March, this could cost them multiple turns of attacking and discard crucial Energy resources they can’t easily get back.

Week Two – Sutton Coldfield (Birmingham)

Week One Results

1. Adam Hawkins – M Sceptile-EX
2. Patrik Raty – Vespiquen / Bronzong  / Crobat
3. Luke Burke – Night March
4. Danielle Hames –
Wailord-EX  / Regice / Aegislash-EX
5. Jonathan Cowley – Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX / Crawdaunt
6. Joe Bernard – M Sceptile-EX
7. Fraser Anderson – Night March
8. Kristen Gregory – M Rayquaza-EX

Adam Hawkins was able to take down the tournament with M Sceptile-EX, taking advantage of its strong Hawlucha / Crobat matchup and using continuous healing and Energy acceleration via Jagged Saber to keep the 220 HP Mega alive. Joe Bernard made top eight with a similar list. Night March took two spots of the top eight, relying on high counts of draw cards such as Trainers' Mail, Acro Bike, Super Scoop Up and Roller Skates. Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX took a single spot in cut, paired with Crawdaunt and Sky Field providing another option for Energy disruption. Patrik Raty was able to take second with Vespiquen after losing a close final. His list ran over 30 Pokemon, including a Crobat line to both get past Focus Sash giving him plenty of Pokemon to discard early and late game to reach KOs on Pokemon-EX and Mega Evolved Pokemon.

Other notable decks included the single Wailord-EX that got top four, which utilized the same type of stall strategy that made the finals at U.S. Nationals, and M Rayquaza-EX which was able to sneak in at 8th using Shuppet to discard any Special Energy from Pokemon like Giratina-EX that would stop the deck in its tracks. Unfortunately for Kristen she met Night March in top eight instead of one of M Rayquaza-EX’s more positive matchups like M Sceptile-EX which can’t execute its healing strategy when it’s being OHKO’d by a full-strength Emerald Break.

The Week Two Metagame

The metagame had an expected shift from week one to week two, adding M Sceptile-EX into the mix and also increasing the potential of Night March as well. After looking over the results this is what I wanted to make sure I could at least have a 50 / 50 matchup against going into week two:

  • M Sceptile-EX – The obvious deck to beat. After it was able to take first and sixth place alongside being a new archetype many people will opt to test and take it into week two due to its lesser known weaknesses at the time and proven record in a tournament setting.
  • Night March – Even though Night March was unable to make the finals, seeing the deck in action and also watching an extremely close top four where it lost out to M Sceptile-EX by multiple flips made me believe the deck would see a higher amount of play going into week two. The deck’s damage output was extremely high and could hit OHKOs on Pokemon-EX as early as turn one creating massive pressure. As its draw engine is based upon multiple Item cards, using utility Supporters such as Hex Maniac, Lysandre or Xerosic on turn one via Battle Compressor / VS Seeker while also having a high amount of Night March Pokemon in the discard pile is not uncommon. The main downfall for Night March is Giratina-EX, which when using Chaos Wheel removes the option of using Double Colorless Energy and also locks whatever Stadium card is in play. This means that if Dimension Valley isn’t in play at the time, the only Night Marcher that can attack is the 30 HP Joltik.
  • Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX – Even though this build hadn’t made too much of a splash in week one, getting only a single place in top eight, the deck seemingly had strong matchups across the board being able to deal with Night March and also having an option versus M Sceptile-EX, forcing either a Hex Maniac or the use of Sceptile-EX‘s Unseen Claw to get past Giratina-EX and its Renegade Pulse Ability. The deck isn’t too hard to play and could win any matchup with a couple of strong flips, so anyone who wasn’t sure what the best play was for week two would most likely latch onto this type of build.

After looking over what decks I could play, I came up with a list of three decks that I thought were most viable for week two based off this metagame.


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