Split Focus — A London Breakdown and Two Unpopular Expanded Decks

Hello everyone! My name is Grant Manley. I have not written an article here on PokeBeach for quite awhile, so some of you may not know me. I’m a senior in high school who loves this silly game that we play. I play competitively in North Carolina and surrounding areas. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Worlds for the past four years. I bubbled at 33rd place in Vancouver, again in Boston, went 4-3-1 day one in San Francisco, and made Top 4 in Seniors in Washington. My friends know me for all of the crazy decks I come up with. I tend to dislike meta decks, so I always try and make competitive rogues or offbeat versions of meta decks that I can use in tournaments. I have played some truly absurd concoctions in the past, and if I come up with a promising rogue deck in the future I will be sure to write about it. Anyway, that’s enough about me. If you want to read about past tournaments, feel free to check out some of my older articles.

While most writers focus on either the Standard format or the Expanded format, I am going to look at both today. There are exciting events for both formats that warrant discussion. London Intercontinentals in the Standard format recently concluded, and San Jose Regionals in the Expanded format is right around the corner. Yveltal took London by storm and is definitely the hot topic right now. Vespiquen / Zebstrika is the unsung hero of Standard, and it narrowly missed out on its chance at glory this past weekend by bubbling in ninth place. Those are the two Standard decks that I’ll be looking at today. As for Expanded, I believe that some tier 2 decks have been largely overlooked and deserve some attention. The two decks in question are Primal Groudon-EX and Night March. Later on, I’ll explain why they have so much potential.

Yveltal / Garbodor

If some people were skeptical of this deck after it took first and second at Fort Wayne Regionals, they should be convinced that this deck is now the undisputed best deck in format after its oppressive run in London. Yveltal / Garbodor is completely dominating the Standard format. Aside from Fort Wayne, it won Orlando Regionals and took the top five spots in London! Yveltal has a good matchup against nearly everything that isn’t designed to beat it, and it has plenty of flex space for healing and disruption techs. Not to mention, the deck is insanely consistent and packs a formidable duo of attackers. That duo is, of course, Yveltal from BREAKthrough and Yveltal-EX.

Michael Pramawat won London with a version of this deck featuring two Enhanced Hammer and a copy of Team Flare Grunt. It is clear that he favored Energy disruption when it came to tech spots for his list. However, there is one version of Yveltal in particular that caught my eye. Third place finisher Phillip Schulz from Germany used some interesting cards, which I’ll analyze in a second. First, I’ll share my list, which draws heavy inspiration from Phillip’s. I do not personally know Phillip, but his list is quite fascinating and I was surprised to find that I agree with most of it. Here’s my take on his variation of the deck.

Pokemon (10)

3x Yveltal-EX (XY #79)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)2x Garbodor (BKP #57)2x Trubbish (BKP #56)1x Jirachi (PRXY #XY67)

Trainers (37)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)3x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)1x Ace Trainer (AOR #69)1x Pokémon Center Lady (FLF #93)1x Delinquent (BKP #98)1x Pokémon Ranger (STS #104)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Max Elixir (BKP #102)3x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)3x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)3x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (13)

9x Darkness Energy (XY #138)4x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)

Most notably, Phillip and I chose to exclude BREAKthrough's Yveltal from our lists. I found that you don’t actually need Yveltal to win games, though it does allow for some cute traps and multi-Prize plays. We also both happened to decide against Enhanced Hammer. Enhanced Hammer essentially decreases Yveltal-EX’s damage output, and I find it to be a fairly underwhelming card. I have Jirachi if I really need to discard a Special Energy.

Speaking of Jirachi, Phillip decided to use it as his only non-EX attacker. It is simply a tech card that will not be used in every matchup. Phillip said that it was included primarily to help with the Rainbow Road matchup. Parallel City plus Garbodor plus N plus Stardust is an incredibly powerful combo against Xerneas, even if you don’t have all four pieces to the combo. I’ve also found Jirachi to be helpful against Vileplume and Vespiquen, two difficult matchups for Yveltal. If the Vileplume player doesn’t have Magearna-EX on board to block Stardust, Jirachi can wreak havoc on that deck. Jirachi also provides disruption and buys time against Vespiquen if needed, though the matchup is still unfavorable.

Two other quirky cards that Phillip ran were Town Map and Ace Trainer. While I initially dismissed both, I’ve found myself enjoying the tech Ace Trainer. I still disagree with Town Map simply because I don’t want to cut anything for it, though I do see the logic of playing it. Ace Trainer is simply a better version of N in specific situations. I have used it quite often in testing and I definitely want to keep it in the list.

I chose to build this deck with a heavy emphasis on Stadium control. I play three Parallel City and one Delinquent, and have never wanted anything else. Parallel City plus Garbodor completely destroys a lot of decks, and Delinquent gives me that option even if my opponent plays the first Parallel City in a direction that favors them. Parallel City has so many uses. It can nerf damage from Greninja or Volcanion-EX, it can limit Rainbow Road’s Bench, it can clear your own Shaymin-EX from the board, and more!

The last unusual card that I run is Pokémon Ranger. Pokemon Ranger greatly improves your odds against pesky tanks such as Jolteon-EX and Regice. Without Ranger, you would have a terribly difficult time dealing with those threats. It is also handy against Jirachi’s Stardust and Giratina-EX‘s Chaos Wheel. I believe that Ranger is worth the slot, especially now that Yveltal has a massive target on its back and people may be more prone to running Jolteon-EX.

Vespiquen / Zebstrika

This is the obscure archetype that Alex Hill placed ninth at London with. I personally believe that this deck is amazing and it could have definitely won the tournament had it not bubbled out of top cut. However, my variation of the deck is fairly different from Alex’s list. Let’s take a look at my Vespiquen list.

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 (FLF #90)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)

Vespiquen is incredibly strong right now because it only loses to two cards: Giratina-EX and Karen. Fortunately, both of those are not heavily played right now. Vespiquen takes a complete autoloss to any decks running those cards, as there is virtually no way to win against them. Vespiquen’s strategy is linear yet it is still a completely reactive deck and always requires plenty of thought to play optimally. In a nutshell, you want to throw away a bunch of Pokemon so that Bee Revenge can OHKO everything. This is a winning strategy against most decks.

Some players choose to run Garbodor in this deck. I strongly disagree with this for a few reasons. First, it forces you to commit at least four spaces to a 1-1 Garbodor line and two Float Stone. Even then, a 1-1 line is hardly consistent. Next, Garbodor usually hurts this deck quite a bit and is only helpful in the Greninja matchup. I found that even without Garbodor the Greninja matchup is about 50-50. With Garbodor, it is difficult to fit Vaporeon and Flareon in the deck. Without those Eeveelutions, the deck has unfavorable matchups against Volcanion and M Scizor-EX.

I really do think that the Eeveelutions are worthwhile. Although many players (myself included) don’t think that Volcanion is a top tier deck, it always shows up at tournaments and you have to be ready for it. Vaporeon makes the matchup practically an autowin. Flareon is your only hope against Scizor, though admittedly Scizor is not as popular as Volcanion. In the event that you play against a deck where the Eeveelutions are useless, you can always pitch them to increase Bee Revenge’s damage.

Zebstrika is what makes this deck amazing. Zebstrika allows you to have a near-autowin against the most popular deck in the format. You can expect to play against at least two Yveltal decks at any given Standard tournament in the near future, and Zebstrika seals those up as easy wins. In the early game, Zebstrika is a fantastic attacker against most other decks while Bee Revenge is still weak. You can occasionally pick up a KO on Shaymin-EX with Crashing Bolt.

Shaymin-EX and Unown are support Pokemon that help you draw through your deck quickly in order to pitch as many Pokemon as you can as fast as you can. Shaymin-EX will often end up getting discarded with Parallel City, and Unown discards itself. Klefki is also included as it is a Pokemon that can discard itself. It is also incredibly useful against M Mewtwo-EX. You want to use Klefki against other Mega decks as well, but it just does not cause quite as much trouble for them as it does against Mewtwo.

One other thing that may seem odd is that I run a 1-1 split of Revitalizer and Buddy-Buddy Rescue. Most Vespiquen lists run two Revitalizer and no Buddy-Buddy Rescue, but I assure you that this split is correct. Revitalizer is great and all, but oftentimes I find myself wanting to retrieve Pokemon that aren’t Grass. Since this deck discards Pokemon like nobody’s business, it is inevitable that you end up wanting some Pokemon back later on. Specific targets for Buddy-Buddy Rescue would be Vaporeon, Flareon, Zebstrika, and Shaymin-EX. Of course, you can get Combee or Vespiquen with it too if you want.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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