The Last Stand — ECC Overview and Standard Decks for States

Hey PokeBeach! It’s been some time since I’ve last posted an article.

ECC 2016
A glance at round nine of the ECC in motion.

All three of the U.S. Regionals — one with BREAKpoint included — and the European Challenge Cup (ECC) have passed, and now it’s time to start preparing for States and Regionals which begin in March. These tournaments are part of the final stretch that leads to the National Championships in Europe and the final set of Regionals in the U.S. It is pivotal that players are prepared for these event and perform well as they are one of the best times of the season to accumulate a high amount of Championship Points.

My first order of business in this article is to reflect upon my entire ECC experience. Then, I will go into detail about the Yveltal-EX / Gallade / Zoroark deck list I piloted through the event, as well as a modified list of my deck that incorporates new cards from BREAKpoint to keep the archetype on top of the metagame, and a version of the deck for Expanded. I also have a Night March build poised and ready to take on States this month, packed with new additions from BREAKpoint.

In this article, I am aiming to help you prepare for any of your upcoming State or Regional Championships. The competition will be tough, and this article covering two of the most popular decks in Standard should help you stay ahead of the other players. Even if you don’t plan to play either of these decks, you will definitely need to learn the ins and outs of each one if you plan to beat them in a tournament.

The ECC — 372 Players Total, 9 Rounds, Top 32 Day One, Top 8 Day Two

My List

Pokemon (14)

2x Yveltal (XY #78)2x Yveltal-EX (XY #79)1x Yveltal (BKT #94)1x Seismitoad-EX (FFI #20)1x Zoroark BREAK (BKT #92)2x Zoroark (BKT #91)2x Zorua (BKT #89)1x Gallade (BKT #84)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (36)

2x Professor Sycamore (XY #122)2x Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick (PRC #133)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)1x Judge (BKT #143)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x Xerosic (PHF #110)1x Giovanni's Scheme (BKT #138)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (RSK #93)4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)3x Acro Bike (PRC #122)3x Muscle Band (XY #121)2x Float Stone (PLF #99)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)1x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (10)

6x Darkness Energy (BLW #111)4x Double Colorless Energy (XY #130)

As I talked about in my last article, I was completely sold on Yveltal-EX / Gallade / Zoroark. Throughout all of my testing, it gave me the best, most consistent results against all decks I was expecting to play against in the tournament. I ended up making two changes to the list I talked about previously, both of which certainly contributed to many of my wins.

1 Seismitoad-EX

The first card, substituted in place of an Acro Bike, is the one and only — Seismitoad-EX. The ability to Item lock the opponent for just two Colorless Energy is handy in many situations, but the main reason for its inclusion is against Night March and Entei variants.

Against Entei, a single Seismitoad-EX can halt their high count of Item and Tool cards such as Muscle Band and Assault Vest, while also hitting for Weakness. Usually an Entei will have at least an Assault Vest attached to it; however, after a bad Heat Tackle flip, a Giovanni's Scheme or Xerosic combined with Muscle Band boosts Quaking Punch to a total of 100 damage, enough to take a KO on the Fire-type Pokemon and force the opponent to respond without Items during their next turn. Even without any Heat Tackle recoil damage, finishing off an Entei with damage already on it or even playing Giovanni’s Scheme with Muscle Band against an Entei without any Assault Vest attached to take a big KO creates the same problem for the opponent.

Throughout my test games with this matchup, Seismitoad-EX provided me with extra turns and sometimes downright won the game for me. Zoroark BREAK and Yveltal-EX helped swing the matchup into an even more favorable position. After all of my testing, Seismitoad-EX was a definite stay in the deck.

Entei wasn’t the only matchup to be improved by Seismitoad-EX, though. Night March gained high amounts of traction for the ECC with lists playing multiple techs, such as Target Whistle to bring back any discarded EXs to obtain an easy OHKO. This caused the matchup to slowly swing into Night March’s favor. Even decks that rely on non-EX attackers still bench Shaymin-EX at some point during the game. Therefore, even after using only non-EX Pokemon to try to win the Prize trade, Night March can still find those Knock Outs on Pokemon-EX and seal its victory.

Seismitoad-EX improves the matchup to just above a 50-50, or even higher if the opponent is not prepared to play against Item lock. Usually Seismitoad-EX should come into play early when the opponent only has three or four Night Marchers in the discard pile. In a typical match, the Night March player is only expecting to go against weak, lower-HP Yveltal and Zoroark, thus they will opt to save as many Pumpkaboo and Joltik as they can to attack with throughout the game. Quaking Punch can OHKO Joltik while leaving the opponent with a weak Night March attack. The opponent will then have to get a Night Marcher into play and find a Double Colorless Energy without the use of any Item cards, only to hit for a measly 60 damage. Pumpkaboo can also be taken down in a single hit with the combination of Muscle Band and Giovanni’s Scheme, hitting for a total of 70 damage.

The obvious problem that can arise with the Quaking Punch strategy is the Shaymin-EX Sky Return loop, slowly chipping away at 30 damage per turn, while Seismitoad-EX can never take a KO due to its low damage output. The best way around this is to make use of Lysandre and Judge. Since a lone Shaymin-EX has the potential to be KO’d by one of your Pokemon, the Night March player will put one or two Joltik and / or Pumpkaboo onto the Bench to ensure they won’t lose in this way. This also poses a threat to the opponent in the case you decide to take a KO on their Shaymin-EX with one of your main attackers. Lysandre allows you take a Prize against Joltik or strand a Pumpkaboo Active to KO the next turn, slowly edging you one Prize closer to winning the Prize trade. Judge removes the Shaymin-EX and Double Colorless Energy from the opponent’s hand and forces them to re-draw those cards from their Item-filled deck, leading them into a probable dead draw scenario in which you can finally take a KO on Shaymin-EX using Quaking Punch.

1 Yveltal BKT

The second card I changed, in place of an Yveltal, was Yveltal from BREAKthrough, more commonly known as “Fright Night” based off of its Ability. M Mewtwo-EX placed well at Cities in the U.K., and the hype of that particular deck going into the ECC was huge. I expected to play against it for one or two of my rounds, and, without a counter, I found myself overwhelmed against big Psychic Infinity plays — even with Zoroark BREAK being able to copy that very attack. Ditto was an option I tried out, but it was dead weight in other matchups; it only helped out against M Mewtwo-EX when the opponent didn’t know I played it. This lead me straight into the Fright Night Yveltal. Fright Night turns off Mewtwo Spirit Link when Yveltal is Active, so in the early game you — in a way — gain one extra turn, forcing the opponent to either manually evolve or try to Lysandre early on just to use their Mewtwo Spirit Link. Furthermore, the attack compliments the Yveltal-EX / Gallade / Zoroark deck tremendously against M Mewtwo-EX by putting 60 damage on two of your opponent’s EXs. Now when your opponent begins attacking with one of these damaged M Mewtwo-EX, it is much easier to KO with Yveltal-EX’s Evil Ball, Zoroark’s Mind Jack or Gallade’s Sensitive Blade. The matchup moved closer to 50-50, but since it was just a single tech, the matchup was still slightly swayed into their favor.

More importantly, Yveltal proved useful in many other matchups, whether to set up a KO on a Benched EX for the following turn, or to place in the Active spot so the opponent couldn’t retreat using Float Stone. It definitely pulled its weight.

Day One

Here is a run-through of my first nine rounds of day one:

I finished the day 6-2-1, seeded 18th overall. Starting off the day at 5-0-0, I only needed a single win and a tie to get into day two, which I managed to accomplish in round eight, before ultimately deciding to ID in round nine since my resistance was quite strong.

Day Two

 Final Record: 9-4-1, 14th overall

ECC final 2016
Medhi was able to win in the finals against Seismitoad-EX, even with three copies of Double Colorless Energy prized in the third game! – (Photo by Doug Morisoli)

I started day two off 2-0 and needed to win another two games to get myself into Top 8.

In round 12, I played against the soon-to-be-winner, Medhi Hafi, running Night March. He handed me a swift loss in the first game with quick Night March OHKOs on my Seismitoad-EX and Zoroark. In the second game I was able to get down to just a single Prize remaining, but, unfortunately for me, I needed to play down an EX as my singular Benched Pokemon which was subsequently brought Active via Lysandre and OHKO’d for his final two Prizes.

Round 13 I started off strong, with Seismitoad-EX taking command of the first game. However, I was unable to keep my Bench clear of EXs in the second game; I wanted to draw more than two cards using Shaymin-EX‘s Set Up to stay in the match, but ultimately this lead to an unfavorable Prize trade. The final game of the series was quite uneventful — I opened the game with a lone Zorua, played Professor Sycamore and couldn’t find another Basic in those seven cards. Forced to pass with just Zorua on my field, a Joltik easily took the KO for the game.

After a review of my tournament run, I wouldn’t change my list at all for the XY-BKT format. Every tech card helped against matchups which would have otherwise been swayed into the opponent’s favor. However, with the addition of BREAKpoint into the format, some changes can be made for it to run smoother against our new meta.

Yveltal / Maxie’s in the New Format

In order to access the new Standard format, it is important to first look at what new or continued threats are present for Yveltal-EX / Gallade / Zoroark.

Night March gains a whole new asset in Puzzle of Time, which can be used in combination with, or in place of, Milotic. Combos such as a Target Whistle and a Lysandre can be re-obtained quite easily to force unfavorable Prize trades upon the opponent. Greninja / Greninja BREAK variants now have the strength to take KOs on low-HP Pokemon like Zorua with just an Ability, and can also lock the opponent’s Abilities for a turn using Shadow Stitching. Trevenant / Trevenant BREAK had success in the final week of Regionals (which was Expanded); however, the deck does not transition well into the Standard format. It only loses consistency by no longer having Jirachi-EX, forcing the deck to rely on other cards, such Battle Compressor, to aid in the search for Wally. Turn one Item lock is nothing to laugh at, though — playing limited amounts of Supporters can lead to an early loss due to a hand clogged with unusable Items. Finally, Fighting Fury Belt is a great addition to multiple decks that utilize Basic Pokemon. An increase in 40 HP often makes what were once OHKO’s into 2HKO’s which lets another turn to go by without the loss of Pokemon or a Prize.

Taking all of this into account, here is my build of Yveltal-EX / Gallade / Zoroark:

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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