Hello PokeBeach goers! It’s been a long and exciting Regionals series for most of us. Congratulations to the winners and those who placed well, you earned it! Regionals are tough tournaments to compete in because of how long they take to complete. For the third week BREAKpoint was legal in the tournament. The first tournament of a new set is usually pretty interesting because we get to see what card combinations and decks top players come up with. This one was no exception.
Let’s start with a quick recap of the last three weeks. Like I predicted in my last article, Yveltal-EX and Vespiquen were popular right off the bat. An Yveltal / Gallade / Archeops deck, piloted by Daniel Altavilla, finished in first place in Virginia. Kevin Baxter got second with a teched-out Vespiquen deck featuring Gallade and Tropical Beach. By far the surprise deck of the tournament turned out to be a Raikou / Eelektrik deck, which Azul Griego and Eric Rodriguez both made Top 8 with. The next week we saw the rise of Seismitoad-EX to counter the meta, which is why it was my pick for week one. It’s worth noting that Michael Pramawat got 3rd with Seismitoad-EX / Bats in VA. Kian Amini’s winning Toad / Bats deck for week two played Manectric-EX, but the second place Toad deck did not. This is why Kian’s deck had the advantage over Francisco’s in the finals. Israel Sosa placed third with Yveltal /Archeops / Gallade to no one’s surprise. It’s almost the same deck he has won multiple Regionals with.
Brad Curcio won St. Louis with the same Yveltal deck that saturated the other two Top 8s. Dalen Dockery got 2nd with Vespiquen. The top two exactly mirrored the top two from week one, which is kind of stale. Usually we see a little more variety than that, but if it works, it works. A Sableye / Garbodor deck and a M Manectric-EX deck got third and fourth. While these decks saw a bit of play week one, this was the first time they broke into the Top 8. Sableye / Garbodor in particular was a extremely-hyped deck going into Regionals that didn’t yield stellar results, but also wasn’t as widely played.
In week three, we saw a bit of a change. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Aaron Tarbell won in Flordia with Trevenant BREAK / Wobbuffet / Bursting Balloon, prominently featuring two new cards. Nathan Brower got second with Primal Groudon-EX. Seismitoad-EX / Bats got third once again. Not outstanding, but a really consistent showing from that deck. The Top 8 overall was a random mix of the last two weeks along with the addition of Trevenant and Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX. In Oregon, Sebastian Crema won with Groudon and Trevenant BREAK got second. The other relatively new deck was Michael Chin’s Turbo Darkrai-EX.
There is a lot of talk about the power creep in the Pokemon TCG, but these last few sets have hardly made an impact. There have been no new Pokemon-EX that can hang with the likes of Yveltal-EX and Seismitoad-EX. Are these EX’s the peak of Pokemon strength? Sure, a new Trainer gets added to the roster now and again (Hex Maniac for example), and we’ve seen a couple new support Pokemon (Zoroark ), but on the whole, nothing has surpassed these giants. The new Darkrai-EX is pretty good but can it stand up to the old one? The new BREAK cards are almost all flat out unplayable in Expanded. The only BREAK card to make a significant impact on the meta is Trevenant. To everyone who complains about the luck-based element of the game and the power creep, this should be a boon – it shows that the card designers are trying to slow their roll. But since we are playing all these events in Expanded, does it even count? Perhaps we are playing in Expanded now to phase these cards out, but not completely shock people out of their comfort zones. Worlds will be in Standard, and the rest of the world plays in that format right now. The game could be going back to a slower state of affairs with the BREAK cards and weaker Pokemon-EX that Pokemon has been pushing out.
In this article I’m going to talk about the decks that just emerged from the ashes of Regionals. I’ve always like Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX, so I’m happy it’s playable again. I’ll also write about the dominating Trevenant BREAK deck and the new version of Darkrai-EX / Yveltal-EX.
Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX / Max Elixir
I consulted the VirGen King himself, Henry Ross-Clunis, on this list, so you know it’s legit. It has been a while since we’ve seen VirGen in competitive play, but this new, faster version might usher up a resurgence. While previously the deck played four Virizion-EX, it’s okay to go down on that count now due to Max Elixir, which I will talk about in a bit. Starting with Virizion is great, but not completely necessary anymore. Starting Genesect can be almost as good, if not better. If we get a god hand and hit two Max Elixir, Genesect can be powered up on turn one. His damage output has been overshadowed a little as per what we are used to, but Megalo Cannon is still a very consistent attack that 2HKO’s most threats in the game. It will even OHKO Primal Groudon-EX with Deoxys-EX on the board. Deoxys is played here to help out our math in certain situations. With Deoxys, we can play Fighting Fury Belt instead of Muscle Band, making all of our Pokemon that much tankier. The deck still hits the right numbers on 170 and 180 HP Pokemon without using G Booster or sniping. For example: if we use Virizion first (since the math doesn’t matter when we are attacking with Genesect first), and deal 60 with a Belt, Genesect plus Deoxys will deal 110 on the following turn, equaling 170. If we have a Belt on Genesect as well, it’s 180. If we deal 50 with Virizion, Genesect plus Deoxys plus Belt will make the total 170. The math works out in this deck’s favor pretty easily.
Archeops and Gallade work in tandem with each other. I really like this strategy, because Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick allows us to choose which Fighting Pokemon we want on the Bench. If we don’t want our opponent evolving, like in the Bats and Vespiquen matchup, we will focus on getting Archeops out first. If evolutions aren’t a factor in the matchup, we will want to bust out Gallade. We also want Gallade against Manectric. Even if we go for Archeops first, we play two Maxie’s so that Gallade can come into play as well. This is because Gallade is actually most of our consistency in the deck. Gallade also ensures that we will succeed when we play a Max Elixir. We have two Shaymin for draw, so that helps consistency as well.
We lead off the list with two Maxie’s. If one is prized it’s okay, we have two! I’d say that Gallade will be used in more matchups than Archeops, so one is usually enough for a match anyway. I only play one Juniper in this list, but that count could go up. It’s such a strong draw card that if we find ourselves drawing dead, it might be needed. However, this deck won’t draw dead very much and that’s a large part of its appeal. The board is very easy to set up and maintain. Virizion-EX pulls Energy from the deck for us and so does Max Elixir. All our resources are very simple and easy to find. No complicated combos required. Our Battle Compressor will allow us to pick and choose which Supporters we want at which time. This is such a far cry from where the game was a two years ago, where a maximum consistency line of four Juniper, four N, and three Bianca (or Skyla) was absolutely necessary for every deck. Now, our Supporter-engine operates in a totally different way. N, Lysandre, and Colress are self-explanitory in their inclusion. Skyla helps fish G Booster out of the deck in the mid to late game to prepare for a big OHKO with Genesect-EX. Giovanni's Scheme provides versatility in that it can draw us cards or add damage. Shadow Triad primarily lets us get back G Booster from the discard if we have to get rid of it too early. Additionally, it lets us use an extra Plasma Energy over the course of the game.
Since we play so many one-of Supporters VS Seeker is one of the most important cards in the deck. We combine it with Battle Compressor to play our choice of Supporter almost every turn. Trainers' Mail is a must, because we want to dig to find Max Elixir in the first few turns. Speaking of Max Elixir, this is the card that Ether always wanted to be. It’s like Electrode in Trainer form but only attaches one Energy. That’s really good! This speed version of the deck reminds me of when players were keen on putting multiple Colress Machine and Team Plasma Badge in their VirGen decks to get Virizion-EX swinging in one turn. Now, we can do that without all the fuss!
Acro Bike provides more consistency and more options to churn through our deck with. Switch is a security blanket in case Deoxys-EX gets stuck in the Active spot or we can’t access a Skyarrow Bridge. I’ve already discussed why Fighting Fury Belt is good, and G Booster is still a necessity. Super Rod puts our Grass Energy back into the deck to re-use with Virizion-EX or Max Elixir. Nine Energy is the perfect amount, not too much nor too little. We still need to access them fast and hope that we hit them off Max Elixir. Energy Switch lets us pull off multiple G Booster attacks in a row.
VirGen has historically had a fairly 50 / 50 matchup with Yveltal-EX. Now, we are quite a bit faster so that will definitely help. Special Condition protection isn’t worth quite as much as it used to be, but Yveltal-EX also doesn’t play Spiritomb anymore. I would put this matchup at 50 / 50. I’ve always thought that this particular matchup was very skill-based, at least compared to other matchups. The Yveltal player should go for Y Cyclone, starting as soon as possible, and the Genesect player needs to be accurate with their snipe damage. If Yveltal player simply stacks Energy onto a benched Yveltal-EX, the Genesect player can easily punish them by using Red Signal or Lysandre to bring it up and G Booster it. However, if they’re smart, the Yveltal player will spread their Energy around the board, making their retaliation after a G Booster much easier. Tool Scrapper is also not currently played in Yveltal, so that really helps out Genesect as well by not giving them an easy way to discard the G Booster.
Manectric-EX has traditionally been a fairly unfavorable matchup, especially M Manectric-EX. It’s a lot better now, since we aren’t as slow as we used to be, but it’s still a bit hard to KO Mega Pokemon other than Primal Groudon-EX. But don’t forget about Gallade! He can take down any beefy Pokemon with a Fighting Weakness. Therefore, in this matchup, our strategy could either be to get out Archeops or Gallade, but I like Gallade better because he gets us on our way to taking Prizes instead of just preventing our opponent from evolving. Gallade is good against not only M Manectric-EX but Raikou as well.
Groudon is a pretty easy matchup because it is weak to Grass. We just mow through their Pokemon with our type-advantage. The Mega deck that will give the most trouble by far is M Rayquaza-EX because they are fast, consistent, and have a high HP that we cannot reach, even with G Booster and Deoxys in play. Because of this that matchup is unfavorable.
Vespiquen, which was a near autoloss like Night March, is much more manageable if we can set up Archeops. The only downside to this is that Vespiquen can simply promote Wobbuffet and evolve their Combee or Eevee. I could see this going either way, largely depending on how each player draws. Against Trevenant, we will have a hard time setting up, but once the machine is churning, since our board is self-sufficient, we can make a comeback. 160 is an easy number to hit. If Trevenant becomes very popular, a more traditional build with less Trainers and more Virizion-EX will be more effective against it.
Seismitoad-EX is a weaker matchup than it once was thanks to all the Trainers we play now. I actually think that it could easily go either way. If the VirGen player gets the turn one Emerald Slash and has four Energy on board before the Toad Player can Quaking Punch or play Crushing Hammer and Head Ringer, the game is probably in the bag. If that doesn’t happen, it probably never will.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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