The Road to Victory — A World Championship Review and a Rainbow Road Breakdown
Hello everyone! I’m back at you with a quick World Championship recap, a PokeBeach Battle Royale recap, and a look at Rainbow Road in the next Standard format! I’m really excited to get this next season underway, as I see many possibilities for cool rogue decks. Also, I can’t wait to start traveling to every Regional Championship I can!
There are so many great things about attending the World Championships. This year I was able to meet a lot of cool people face to face for the first time, as well as catch up with some friends from countries around the world. The tournament wasn’t bad, the side tournaments were awesome, and the fun I had playing Cube with all of my buddies is something that can not be taken for granted.
But you want to know one of my favorite parts of World Championships? It’s coming home. I tell myself every year right after the World Championships is over that I’m going to take a week or two off of Pokemon to reset my head and get prepared for the mental focus that a deep run in a Pokemon season can take. What did I end up doing this year? The same thing I end up doing every year. Sort cards. Nothing can compare to that massive reset button. I enjoy taking the time out of my day to put back all of the practice decks Grady and I made for the World Championships. It brings closure to a great season. A season that saw Team Spokane make deep runs at multiple Regional Championships. A season that saw over 100 hours spent in a car traveling around the country. A season that saw our testing group put together a meta breaking Primal Groudon-EX list, as well as the first Expanded Rainbow Road list to win a City Championships.
Speaking of Rainbow Road, if any of you missed the PokeBeach Invitational, go check that out. There were some fantastic games played on live stream. It’s definitely a good recourse to see some of the game’s best battle it out! But more on that later.
Instead, let’s dive in to the quick recap of the biggest tournament of the year, and the reason many of us play this game: the World Championships!
Coming off of a day two National Championships finish isn’t always easy. On one hand, you know you have a proven deck that can work in your favor that you know performs very well at a high level. On the other hand, falling short of the ultimate prizes causes you to really take a look at all of your decisions critically. I made the big mistake of underestimating how well Night March was going to do at U.S. National Championships, even though I knew it was a fantastic deck.
Steam Siege didn’t do a whole lot to the meta in terms of adding new concepts or adjusting old lists. The two big changes I overlooked going into San Francisco were Volcanion and Greninja. Volcanion was a deck concept that we here in Spokane tested day in and day out. We knew there was a way to get it to work, we just were never able to find that right combination of cards. Greninja with Bursting Balloon and Talonflame was something that we had grabbed whispers of from online testing groups, but also something that we weren’t too scared of, and weren’t too confident in to test. Boy were we wrong.
So with that in mind, we took the results of U.S. National Championships as gold. I wanted to be able to craft a deck that had a decent Night March matchup, a decent Trevenant matchup, and a way to hang in there against Vileplume and Dark. The deck that I, and many others, ended up settling on for day one was Water Box. I liked the deck’s ability to go 50 / 50 with almost every other list, as well as stay consistent enough to not lose to itself. However, if you know what I ended up playing, you know that somewhere along the line I ditched Water Box. For the sake of me being me, and the fact that this list did not get played, here is what I would have played at 2016 World Championships.
This list was based heavily on Paul Johnston’s list from the U.S. National Championships. If you’re familiar with that list, you’ll notice there is only about three or four cards difference between the two. He made a very deep run, so in my mind, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it! I don’t want to dive too far into this list, since it isn’t what I played but let’s take a look at a couple of unusual inclusions.
Many people quickly pointed to this card as one of the more confusing choices. There are three big reasons why this card is fantastic in this deck. It can OHKO Shaymin-EX for the same amount of Energy that it takes a Seismitoad-EX to do the same thing. Getting ahead on that Prize-trade against decks that can’t handle going to uneven Prizes is an amazing thing. I don’t like Articuno. Yeah, I know all of the benefits that Alpha Plus brings, especially against the Night March matchup. I feel like with two Enhanced Hammer and Quaking Punch, your Night March matchup is fine anyway. The deck can handle itself with just one Articuno. I saw a lot of Water Box lists opt to run the Promo Shaymin-EX from the Generations Elite Trainer Box, and while that tech was a great way to deal with Trevenant, it was a liability against other matchups if you managed to start with it. I’m not the biggest fan of having two Shaymin-EX Benched, along with a Manaphy-EX Benched for easy Prizes. Wind Charm is a great Ability for buying you two or more turns of no spread damage, while putting a good amount of pressure on Trevenant with no real downside.
Two Enhanced Hammer
Like most people, in testing we found that this deck struggled against speedy decks like Night March and Darkrai-EX / Giratina-EX. With the extra copies of Enhanced Hammer, combined with Quaking Punch, we found it easy to limit the amount of Double Colorless Energy or Double Dragon Energy drops from our opponent. Barring a well timed Pokémon Ranger, which is hard to get out under Item-lock, we found much ease in denying Night March of at least a couple turns of attacking. Even with a well timed Pokemon Ranger, the Night March player would also need to draw into Puzzle of Time. And with all of those early game resources gone, the discarded targets for Puzzle proved to be difficult to figure out. It was definitely the correct play for countering one of the biggest expected decks.
Fourth Energy Switch
This one brought with it a lot of flack and debate. I saw multiple lists drop down to as low as two copies of this amazing card. Now, the argument for playing a low amount of this card is that of early game clumping. People seemed to be okay settling with the turn two Quaking Punch, instead of trying to hit that magical turn one. And that’s the exact reason I opted to play four. The strategies that most decks used to counter the turn one Item-lock of Trevenant and Vileplume don’t work against a turn one Quaking Punch. Aegislash-EX, Lysandre, Hex Maniac, and cards of the like don’t really help against the turn one lock from Seismitoad-EX. Trevenant decks have always been known for “stealing” games that they had no business of winning simply by locking turn one. With the fourth Energy Switch, I found that I was achieving similar results.
The Day Before
Water Box was sleeved, swagged, and ready to go for the big dance. I had practiced an absurd amount with this deck, both online, at local tournaments, and in my own house. I knew Water Box was going to be the play that would get me to day two of World Championships. The Thursday before the big day I was invited with a couple of friends to play in a invitational tournament for cash prizes. Not wanting to be a loser, I decided to go and tune up a little bit. However, I feared playing Water Box at the small tournament for one reason: what if I failed? What if my deck decided not to do well at all and I had to spend the hours leading up to World Championships changing my entire game plan. I didn’t want to put myself in that situation, so I decided to make some tweaks to the deck I played for National Championships. I ended up going undefeated in the tournament, even taking out a Night March deck, which was historically a bad matchup for me. Because of my performance in this tournament, and the comfort level I felt with the deck, I decided to perform a last minute switch over to M Manectric-EX, which proved to be the best decision I ever made! Here is the list I used for day one and day two of the World Championships.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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