Taming Expanded — Informed Predictions for Greensboro Regionals

The first Expanded tournament of the Tag Team era, Toronto Regionals, ended in a surprising fashion, with Trevenant dominating the event but Night March eventually winning, in what can reasonably be called a blast from the past.

In only a few days, Greensboro Regionals will put players to the test once again, but the situation is actually different. For Toronto, players had to deal with the impact of four bans and a new set featuring the new Tag Team mechanic, with no solid reference apart from articles, videos and conversations about hyped, and less hyped, decks. In Greensboro, everyone will be aware of the previous results in the same format, and this will affect everyone’s choice of deck — whether it is to copy a successful deck or to counter them. In my opinion, this makes the metagame easier to predict, and therefore preferable.

In this article, I want to present and explain my predictions for Greensboro Regionals, and help you make the right pick — there are a few decks I think are valid choices! I’ll begin by talking about my experience with Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet, and proceed to talk about other popular decks and their chances going forward. I also mention Darkrai-EX as another long-forgotten deck that could make a comeback.

1. Hitmonchan and Me

I decided to play Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet in Toronto. As I explained in my last article, it has good matchups against some expected decks like Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and Zoroark-GX variants. I was no longer confident in Zoroark-GX / Garbodor after my disappointing run with it in Dallas, and Hitmonchan seemed to strike the balance between being a good call for the meta as well as a safe choice in general thanks to Wobbuffet being so good in Expanded against various threats. Over the tournament, I was able to use Bide Barricade to block the Abilities of Vileplume, Diancie Prism Star, Omastar, Pyroar, Ditto Prism Star, Shaymin-EX, Jirachi, Gallade, Oranguru, and more. Many unexpected decks that reached Day 2 in Toronto, such as Nathan Brower’s Jirachi / Gallade or Frank Percic’s Alolan Exeggutor, can struggle with Bide Barricade.

Pokemon (14)

4x Wobbuffet (PHF #36)3x Hitmonchan (TEU #74)1x Hitmonlee (TEU #73)1x Diancie Prism Star (FOL #74)1x Buzzwole (FOL #77)1x Nihilego (LOT #106)1x Oranguru (SM #113)1x Kartana-GX (CRI #70)1x Shuckle-GX (LOT #17)

Trainers (37)

4x Professor Juniper (DEX #98)3x N (DEX #96)3x Guzma (BUS #115)2x Korrina (FFI #95)2x Teammates (PRC #141)1x Cynthia (ULP #119)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Nest Ball (SM #123)3x Float Stone (PLF #99)3x Muscle Band (XY #121)1x Adventure Bag (LOT #167)1x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)1x Enhanced Hammer (GUR #124)1x Ultra Ball (PLB #90)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)3x Shrine of Punishment (CES #143)

Energy (9)

4x Strong Energy (FAC #115)4x Prism Energy (NXD #93)1x Beast Energy Prism Star (FOL #117)

This is the list I played. Compared to the one I posted last week, the main difference is that I cut some tech cards for more Supporters. After talking and comparing lists with Gregory Fortier, I felt like my list was too unstable and decided to add a third N and a Cynthia to the deck. The inclusion of the third Guzma happened Friday evening after some testing and discussion with Tran Nguyen.

I don’t regret either of these inclusions. The third Guzma in particular was invaluable. With no Tapu Lele-GX in the deck, there is no way outside of Teammates, which takes a turn, to search for your first Guzma, so having a third one helps to get it earlier. After one Guzma is played, of course, VS Seeker can be used to use its effect again.

My final record with the deck was 8-4-2, missing out on top 16. However, something becomes apparent when we break down my matchups:

  • Round 1: WW vs Gengar and Mimikyu-GX / Vileplume
  • Round 2: WLT vs Pikachu & Zekrom-GX + Shining Lugia
  • Round 3: WW vs Gengar & Mimikyu-GX / Omastar
  • Round 4: WW vs Night March
  • Round 5: WLW vs Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX / Pyroar
  • Round 6: LWT vs Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet
  • Round 7: LL vs Trevenant
  • Round 8: WW vs Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet
  • Round 9: WW vs Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet
  • Round 10: LL vs Trevenant
  • Round 11: WW vs Gallade / Jirachi
  • Round 12: WW vs Night March
  • Round 13: LL vs Trevenant
  • Round 14: LL vs Trevenant

Over the tournament, I went 0-4 against Trevenant and 8-0-2 against the rest of the field. There are two conclusions to this:

First, the Trevenant matchup is awful. This is due to a combination of Item lock, Trevenant’s Fighting Resistance and ability to spread. Latias-EX could be included in the future if Trevenant players keep cutting Alolan Muk, as Will Jenkins and Chris Siakala did, but it seems more reasonable to take the loss to the matchup.

The other conclusion is more positive: the deck exceeded expectations against all non-Trevenant decks! This is despite only hitting one Zoroark-GX deck and one Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, which goes to show that Hitmonchan isn’t a purely anti-meta deck. You might wonder why I tied against Pikachu & Zekrom-GX despite it being a very favorable matchup. I attribute the tie to spending too much time trying to salvage game two — I was ahead in game three and only needed more time to close it out; so that tie could arguably be considered a win if I played optimally, again highlighting the deck’s strength.

Every tech Pokemon in the deck was useful at some point or another. Hitmonlee was good in mirror matches and also against Night March. Using Guzma to bring a Bench-sitter Active and using Special Combo on their attacker can make them miss a turn of attacking. Kartana-GX won me the two games against Gallade by letting me take my last Prize even when facing a full-health Gallade with Focus Sash. Shuckle-GX won me some time in a mirror match. Nihilego had several uses, but my favorite was against Zach Lesage’s Hitmonchan deck: I was behind three to two in Prizes, but I used Guzma to bring his Focus Sash-ed Buzzwole Active and copied Oricorio‘s Supernatural Dance to KO his Goomy and put one damage counter on Buzzwole, breaking its Focus Sash. Zach was unable to retreat Buzzwole, and the next turn I copied Diancie Prism Star’s Diamond Rain to KO Buzzwole and take the Prize lead once again.

I talked about Hitmonchan’s matchups against most of the field last week, but I want to take a moment here to mention Night March, seeing as it made a brilliant comeback in Toronto. I played against the eventual champion Jimmy Pendarvis and fellow writer Caleb Gedemer, both of whom played Night March, and beat them both. Although I don’t think the matchup is an auto-win by any means, it definitely feels favored for Hitmonchan. It is easy to take a KO on Joltik or Pumpkaboo and not lose your attacker in exchange, since you can switch to Wobbuffet. Night March also returns KO fairly easily, but they might have to dig harder for it and discard or use some of their precious resources for that. They may also use Shaymin-EX’s Set Up, which gives you a way to take two Prizes in one attack if they can’t discard it with Parallel City. In any case, you generally end up trading KOs back and forth. If you took the first Prize, you probably can keep taking one every turn until the end. If you didn’t, the opponent should still get to a point where they run out of resources — either Double Colorless Energy, or attackers. You might think a Night March deck would have no trouble running out of attackers, but remember that they can only attack with Pumpkaboo if they have their one-of Dimension Valley in play, so they are reliant on their four Joltik for most of the match. Shuckle-GX is your ace in the hole as it can stall the opponent if they run out of ways to use Guzma. Don’t play it too early, though: Night March plays Silent Lab and Dowsing Machine to remove its Ability. However, if those cards are in the discard, then you can safely use Shuckle-GX to wall the opponent. This can prevent them from taking their last Prize and allow you to come back from a one-Prize deficit.

There were several non-GX decks in Toronto that aimed to beat Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, Zoroark-GX, and other GX decks such as Rayquaza-GX by having favorable Prize trades, but that ended up praying every round to dodge Trevenant. Buzzwole / Garbodor, Gallade / Jirachi, and Alolan Exeggutor all fit this category, and I would even include Vespiquen and Night March in it, despite Jimmy Pendarvis’ surprising tree-slaying spree. In my opinion, of all the decks in this category, Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet is the best. It has good matchups head-to-head against the other non-GX decks, and, once again, Wobbuffet can save it from unexpected situations.

I would still recommend it as a play. The only card I might want to add to the deck is a Field Blower, which would give the deck an out to Focus Sash, in addition to being a good card in general.


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