Cutting Down the Tree — Beating Trevenant in Expanded

What’s up guys? It’s been a while and that’s for a good reason. I haven’t hit up a big tournament since Phoenix as most tournaments haven’t been spiking my interests with not many Regionals being hosted on the West Coast as of late and most matches being decided as soon as you sit down at the table due to matchups. But I’m stepping back into gear for San Jose! This has to be my favorite Regionals of the year. The highlight of this trip for me usually is going to Pacifica, a small surfing town that rides right along the coast. I have also formed a new love with Sushirito after my first taste in San Francisco this August, so I’ll be traveling to NorCal with a checklist and a half.

San Jose Sharpedos
The San Jose Sharpedos

Looking at tournaments that have played so far this year, I would have to say that I find this year’s Expanded format to be quite pleasant compared to the Standard format. Decks run significantly smoother, many new elements totally change an archetype’s composition, metagames distinctly change, and it can sometimes be hard to fit so many amazing cards into one deck. With these elements in mind, it seems to be the format that favors a skilled player. While both formats play with the “see what sticks” mentality, this is more emphasized in Standard due to the limited consistency options.

Anyways, enough of my clearly biased ranting, I wanted to talk about one of the most controversial decks ever to be seen in the game. This should come as no surprise to most and can be inferred by the title, but the deck I’m talking about is Trevenant. With the deck winning our most recent Expanded Regionals in a fashion that highly discourages game interaction, the deck has been called the BDIF in the format and rightfully so. Today, I will be covering how to beat this Goliath going into San Jose, but most strategies I will be providing in this article may not be enough to guarantee a win against this deck. Anyone who has played with or against Item-lock knows that anything can happen, so don’t bash me if you lose to it occasionally.

Trevenant and Why It’s So Good

As mentioned before, Trevenant is considered to be one of the best decks in Expanded, and as a result, will likely see heavy play in San Jose. The combination of constant Item-lock, Red Card, Energy disruption, and a quite ludicrous attack in Silent Fear all discourage interaction from your opponent and make for one of the most degenerate strategies we have seen in a while. Essentially, anything that isn’t Trevenant is considered the good guy in this format as I can’t name many people that are a fan of Trevenant that haven’t had results with the deck. A lot of decks in the current format have a heavy emphasis on Battle Compressor to get speedy starts to a game in hopes of applying enough early pressure to grab a win. Any deck that relies on this engine (besides Dark decks) will struggle greatly with Trevenant, so be prepared to see some new decks on the block in hopes of beating Trevenant. The best assumption you can make on what to expect at San Jose as far as Trevenant goes is none other than the winning list itself. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, here’s the list Jonathan Crespo used to win Philadephia Regionals.

Pokemon (15)

3x Trevenant BREAK (BKP #66)4x Trevenant (XY #55)4x Phantump (BKP #64)2x Jirachi-EX (PLB #98)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #106)

Trainers (37)

4x Professor Juniper (PLF #116)2x Wally (RSK #107)1x Lysandre (FLF #104)1x N (NVI #101)1x Xerosic (PHF #119)1x Team Flare Grunt (XY #129)4x VS Seeker (RSK #110)4x Ultra Ball (PLF #122)4x Red Card (XY #124)4x Crushing Hammer (EPO #92)2x Level Ball (NXD #89)2x Rescue Scarf (DRX #115)1x Enhanced Hammer (PRC #162)1x Super Rod (DRV #20)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)3x Dimension Valley (PHF #93)1x Silent Lab (PRC #140)

Energy (8)

8x Psychic Energy (PK #107)

The reason that Trevenant is only now being hyped by many is because Yveltal-EX / Maxie’s has been the most dominant Expanded deck since Gallade was released and this deck has been known to famously lose to it. But this is a very different version of Trevenant and arguably flaunts a 50-50 matchup against its previous bane due to this version being able to fish out a bad hand for Yveltal pretty well and can capitalize on it. Crespo defeated multiple Dark decks before winning Philadephia, with his last one being in Top 4. This should wipe the smile off any Dark player’s face. Yveltal being one of these Battle Compressor reliant decks makes these situations very real and can cause some serious heartache for the Yveltal player. Trevenant feels like a totally different beast going into San Jose as any player with luck on their side can go all the way with it.

I don’t mean to discredit Crespo as this version of Trevenant was new and innovative, but this level of disruption makes it possible for anyone to win a tournament with this deck as most games can just end in the Trevenant player catching the opponent on a bad hand and the Trevenant player capitalizing on it with Silent Fear. The deck’s skill cap is pretty low, so players that aren’t so confident with playing anything else can resort to this as an option. This will lead to the deck seeing a lot of play, undoubtedly. The deck runs relatively smoothly as it doesn’t require a ton for the player to gain an optimal set up, so consistency really isn’t an issue here. When I ask people how to beat Trevenant, I’ve heard a majority of them say “Go first and cross your fingers.” While this stands true for some decks, it is going to be my job in this article to falsify this statement and show you how you can beat this deck reliably.

How to Beat Trevenant

Now that we know exactly what we’re dealing with, how the heck can we beat this gambling machine, where the odds are in their favor? Well, to do this, we need to exploit its few weaknesses. These will be talked about more in depth in the following sections. For most of these methods, more than one is usually required to acquire a favorable matchup against Trevenant as it disrupts you in more ways than one, creating multiple win conditions.

Dark Decks

The obvious weakness to exploit is Trevenant‘s actual Weakness, Dark Pokemon. The Weakness to Dark types allow cheaper attackers to OHKO Trevenant, and the cheap part of this is huge. When dealing with Energy disruption decks, the best answer is low maintenance Pokemon. Cards like Yveltal-EXDarkrai-EX, and specifically Yveltal should come to mind. Fortunately, these Pokemon are components to decks in the very heart of the Expanded metagame, so they already have competitive viability. But we need to be very careful here, as if we don’t optimize our build to withstand the immense disruption, we will certainly be punished. So, we should be looking to add a healthy amount of draw Supporters and outs to retrieving our Energy under Item-lock.

Rough Seas

This card is obviously exclusive to decks that utilize Water or Lightning type attackers, but is probably the most powerful and reliable single card available to straight-up counter a Trevenant deck. The math it has, healing exactly 30 damage from each Water and Lightning Pokemon is impeccable against a Silent Fear. This essentially puts the Trevenant player back a full turn and makes future Silent Fear negligible until dealt with. The raw power this card provides against a Trevenant deck can not go unnoticed and the best part is that this card has various uses outside of Trevenant. Playing this card in of itself should be a hint to a very good play for San Jose.


Now this is what I call giving ’em a taste of their own medicine! Surprisingly enough, Item-lock is a pretty suitable answer to Trevenant as Trevenant itself plays quite a hefty amount of Items to ensure their speedy setup. Besides the mirror, the two viable forms we have of Item-lock are from Seismitoad-EX and Vileplume. With these, creating situations where Trevenant has a dead hand is actually quite probable, but you will still need a way to out-exchange Silent Fear when it comes into play, so keep this in mind when using these cards going into San Jose.


Out of all the answers I can list to Trevenant, this seems to be the most unconventional. Since not many decks that come to mind are playing Fire Energy and Psychic Energy or even Double Dragon Energy for that matter, this seems like a card that won’t see any use outside of this matchup and will be used strictly play for the deck out. Nonetheless, the new Trevenant’s answers to this card only consist of one Silent Lab, so it should be able to provide an absolute lock once the Lab is dealt with. It will be interesting to see how many of these we will see in San Jose to say the least.

Heavy Supporter Counts

This should just be a general inclusion if you want to beat Trevenant reliably. Now, I’m not saying to go to Wailord-EX levels of Supporters, but you need to be having plenty of outs to the inevitable Red Card you will be seeing repeatedly throughout the game. Running three or four of both Professor Juniper and N are about the level you will need to reach to be able to draw out of the Red Card.

Yveltal Maxie’s

When coming up with a deck that fits the criteria above, Yveltal should come as no surprise. Unfortunately, I believe that this latest installment of Trevenant will require a little more from an Yveltal player than just sitting at the table to have a favorable matchup. With this installment of Dark being more Item-based to keep up with the fast-paced metagame, it is possible for Trevenant to squeak out wins due to the very composition of your deck. To make the matchup favorable once more, I have added in some cards that can sway the game while maintaining the deck’s core.

Pokemon (11)

2x Yveltal-EX (XY #144)2x Yveltal (BKT #94)2x Darkrai-EX (DEX #107)1x Yveltal (RC2 #RC16)1x Jirachi-EX (PLB #98)1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #106)1x Gallade (BKT #84)1x Archeops (DEX #110)

Trainers (38)

3x Professor Juniper (PLF #116)2x N (NVI #101)2x Lysandre (FLF #104)1x Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick (PRC #158)1x Colress (PLS #135)1x Ghetsis (PLF #115)1x AZ (PHF #117)1x Delinquent (BKP #98)4x VS Seeker (RSK #110)4x Ultra Ball (PLF #122)4x Dark Patch (DEX #93)3x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)3x Trainers' Mail (AOR #100)2x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)1x Float Stone (PLF #99)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)2x Parallel City (BKT #145)2x Silent Lab (PRC #140)

Energy (11)

7x Darkness Energy (HS #121)4x Double Colorless Energy (HS #103)

Overall, the main problem I have with this list is the low draw Supporter count. While this count should is ideal against everything else, Trevenant can still leave you with dead hands. Ideally, we would like to add in a fourth Professor Juniper or a third N, so if you want to cut anything from the list, let me recommend one of these cards to fill the empty slot.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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