What a Buzzkill! — 10th Place Athens Report and the Evolution of Vespiquen

Hello PokeBeach! This is Grant Manley, and I’ve got some great information for you today. Quite a few exciting tournaments have happened since I had last written an article, including three Regionals, countless League Cups, and the ARG Invitational. I want to start this article where I left off with my last one, right before San Jose Regionals. I will go over the interesting tournaments that I have attended and I will analyze one of the most powerful decks in the game — Vespiquen. Vespiquen has flown under the radar for the past few months, though I’ve been playing it for over a month. It came as no surprise to me when the deck took three out of the Top 8 spots at Athens Regionals. Each of the versions piloted at Athens were unique in their own way, but they all performed exceptionally while maintaining consistency. I will share my thoughts about all three of these decks, as well as my own current Vespiquen list. Later on, I’ll discuss the deck I played at Athens and how the tournament went for me. For reference, below is the Vespiquen list that I had posted in my last article.

 

Pokemon (28)

4x Vespiquen (AOR #10)4x Combee (AOR #9)2x Zebstrika (BKP #49)2x Blitzle (BKP #48)1x Flareon (AOR #13)1x Vaporeon (AOR #22)2x Eevee (AOR #63)4x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)4x Unown (AOR #30)4x Klefki (STS #80)

Trainers (28)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Acro Bike (PRC #122)2x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)2x Special Charge (STS #105)1x Buddy-Buddy Rescue (BKT #135)1x Revitalizer (GEN #70)2x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)

I fully believe this list was optimal for its time, but Vespiquen has changed quite a bit since the last time I wrote about it. If you are looking for explanations on card counts, I encourage you to check out my previous article where I explain all of my decisions. Flareon was included when traces of Scizor-EX were still found, but that deck is long gone by now. I used this exact Vespiquen list to win the first ever Pokemon ARG Invitational tournament. This was supposed to be a prestigious cash tournament, but only nine players showed up! Nevertheless, it was a somewhat competitive tournament with a $1000 grand prize. It had five rounds of best-of-three Swiss with a 60 minute limit, with the Top 4 also being best-of-three. Here’s a summary of how the tournament went.

ARG Invitational

Round 1 – M Mewtwo-EX W-L-L

Round 2 – Yveltal-EX / Garbodor W-W

Round 3 – Greninja W-W

Round 4 – Greninja L-W-W

Round 5 – Yveltal-EX / Garbodor I.D.

Top 4 – Yveltal-EX / Garbodor L-W-W

Finals – M Mewtwo-EX W-W

I only played against three different decks during the event, and thankfully my deck worked well enough to handle all of them. I thought Greninja would be a tough matchup, but this Vespiquen list has something like a six-to-one win/loss ratio against Greninja, even with no Ability-lock cards! The matchup apparently wasn’t as bad as I had originally guessed. Yveltal / Garbodor is an extremely favorable matchup for Vespiquen, though I had dropped a game in Top 4 due to some bad draws off of N. I had easily defeated the Mewtwo deck in the Finals because he had to replace all of his Professor Sycamore with Psychic Energy due to a deck list error! How he beat Volcanion-EX in the Top 4 with a game loss and no Sycamore is beyond me! Usually the strategy against Mewtwo is to clear off the Trubbish and Garbodor so you can use Klefki the rest of the game. You also don’t want to attack straight into Damage Change because Damage Change goes through Klefki. I managed to stick to this strategy and it worked out well for me.

I want to give a quick shout-out to ARG for sponsoring me on their Pokemon team and for running so many Pokemon events! I also like how they ran this tournament with 60 minute rounds. This allowed me to make some comebacks in matches that I wouldn’t normally have had time to do. I think having 60 minute rounds when time allows is quite fair, as it permits more matches to be completed. Of course, this worked against me in the first round, but it was worth it.

League Cups

For the first League Cup of the season, I played Rainbow Road / Zebstrika. I ran an unusual list with a 4-3 Zebstrika line (basically 4-4 or more with Super Rod), no Sky Field and no Max Elixir. Unfortunately, I didn’t play against any of the Yveltal-EX decks there, but I still went 4-1-1. I ended up bubbling at 9th place. My friend Eddie Sitavi, who is a lowkey beast at this game, used a similar Vespiquen list to win the event. I don’t know the exact list that he used, but he was able to beat various different meta decks and sweep the event without dropping a single match.

For the second League Cup, I chose to play Vespiquen myself. I used the exact same list that I used at ARG, except I cut the useless Flareon for a Mew-EX. Mew is phenomenal for attacking against M Mewtwo-EX, as it can use Bee Revenge without sacrificing an actual Vespiquen. The tournament was ran with a best-of-three Swiss, no Top Cut and 50 minute rounds. Here’s how my rounds played out.

Round 1 – Greninja W-L-W

Round 2 – M Mewtwo-EX W-W

Round 3 – Greninja W-L-W

Round 4 – Yveltal-EX / Garbodor W-W

I won this League Cup at 4-0. Eddie ended up getting 4th at this League Cup with Vespiquen, and he went on to get 2nd the following day, again with Vespiquen. All of these successes with Vespiquen solidified our belief in the deck, and we tested it heavily for Athens Regionals.

Bees in Athens

Before I go into my personal tournament report, I want to dissect the various interesting Vespiquen decks that made Top 8 at Athens. The obvious showstopper was Dylan Bryan’s absolutely insane version, but my friend Eddie (his real name is Carl) made Top 4 with Vespiquen too. William Boatman also made Top 8 with Vespiquen! Every single Vespiquen deck to advance to Day 2 ended up making Top 8! Let’s take a look at William’s list first.

 

Pokemon (28)

4x Vespiquen (AOR #10)4x Combee (AOR #9)2x Zebstrika (BKP #49)2x Blitzle (BKP #48)2x Garbodor (BKP #57)2x Trubbish (BKP #56)4x Unown (AOR #30)4x Klefki (STS #80)4x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (28)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Acro Bike (PRC #122)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Special Charge (STS #105)2x Revitalizer (GEN #70)2x Faded Town (AOR #73)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)

This list is similar to my list, and even more similar to Alex Hill’s 9th place London list. It’s probably the most straightforward and consistent way you can build Vespiquen. William chose to run a 2-2 Garbodor line to further improve his Greninja matchup, while accepting a bad matchup to Volcanion-EX. This worked out for him, as there was a large presence of Greninja at Athens. He didn’t run cards like Vaporeon and Mew-EX, as they conflicted with the somewhat thick Garbodor line. William interestingly used two Faded Town instead of Parallel City, which was also a neat call for the meta in Athens. M Rayquaza-EX, M Gardevoir-EX and M Mewtwo-EX all made strong showings in Day 2. Many top players used Mega decks at the event. Faded Town damage racks up fast if your opponent misses even one turn of finding a counter Stadium. While I disagree with some choices in this list, it ended up being a terrific meta call for the tournament. William made Top 8 and lost to Dylan Bryan, whose Vespiquen list is favored in the mirror matchup.

Next, I want to look at Eddie’s list, which is only five cards different from the one I used at the League Cup. In a deck like Vespiquen where there is so much room for flexibility and optimization, I consider a five card difference to be relatively marginal.

 

Pokemon (28)

4x Vespiquen (AOR #10)4x Combee (AOR #9)2x Zebstrika (BKP #49)2x Blitzle (BKP #48)1x Vaporeon (AOR #22)2x Eevee (AOR #63)1x Zoroark (BKT #91)1x Zorua (BKT #89)1x Mew-EX (LTR #RC24)4x Klefki (STS #80)3x Unown (AOR #30)3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (28)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Teammates (PRC #141)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Acro Bike (PRC #122)2x Special Charge (STS #105)2x Revitalizer (GEN #70)1x Buddy-Buddy Rescue (BKT #135)1x Parallel City (BKT #145)1x Faded Town (AOR #73)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)

I think this is the best version of Vespiquen that was played at Athens, but of course, I am biased because it is the list that most closely resembles mine. Vaporeon is an incredibly important card to the deck that completely flips the poor Volcanion matchup into a favorable one. Volcanion is played at just about every tournament, so I agreed with Eddie that Vaporeon was an intelligent inclusion. Eddie ran a 1-1 Zoroark line, which is something we’ve disagreed on for months. He likes having an alternate attacker that can take random KOs. I’d rather have the extra Unown and Shaymin-EX, but this list made Top 4 at the largest Regional Championship ever, so it clearly works fine.

Eddie also ran one copy of Teammates, which helps a lot with consistency. It also decreases the odds of you randomly whiffing Double Colorless Energy, which does happen occasionally. I’m glad he saw the value of running one Mew-EX and one Buddy-Buddy Rescue, as both are severely underrated cards in Vespiquen decks. Eddie also ran one Parallel City and one Faded Town, which is quite clever and is something I can definitely get behind. He said he used Faded Town more as a Parallel City counter than as a Mega counter, but it functions as both. After all, if your opponent plays their Parallel City first in an unfavorable direction towards you, you want to be able to remove it. Eddie started off 1-2 during Day 1, but ended up finishing 7-2. He did well in Day 2 but ended up losing to dead draws against Chris Siakala in Top 4.

Now let’s take a look at the elephant in the room. I want to try and make sense of Dylan Bryan’s completely insane, yet genius Vespiquen build. This deck took him to a second place finish at Athens.

 

Pokemon (29)

4x Vespiquen (AOR #10)4x Combee (AOR #9)2x Zebstrika (BKP #49)2x Blitzle (BKP #48)2x Octillery (BKT #33)3x Remoraid (BKT #32)1x Garbodor (BKP #57)1x Trubbish (BKP #56)4x Unown (AOR #30)2x Klefki (STS #80)2x Rattata (EVO #66)1x Mew-EX (LTR #RC24)1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (27)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Olympia (GEN #66)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Acro Bike (PRC #122)3x VS Seeker (PHF #109)2x Special Charge (STS #105)1x Revitalizer (GEN #70)1x Buddy-Buddy Rescue (BKT #135)1x Lucky Helmet (AOR #77)1x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Faded Town (AOR #73)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)

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