League Challenge Report – Feeling the Dark Rush
Yesterday we ended up having a League Challenge, which happened to be one of the first tournaments in the Next Destinies to Flash Fire format. The tournament was very much still much of an old guard tournament, as a lot of players haven’t finished getting all their cards into their collections from Flash Fire to really start building any of the new decks that came from the new set.
That’s not to say that the tournament was absent of any new concepts. I know Pyroar, Shiftry, and Floette all made appearances in the tournament. However with most players absent of enough cards from the new set, Virizion/Genesect ended up being the most played deck in the tournament.
I would have loved to play one of my Charizard EX decks for the tournament, especially with all the Virizion, but my Charizard EX’s have yet to come in the mail yet, so that wasn’t an option. I didn’t really spend much time preparing for this one, so the decks I had on hand were my Yveltal EX deck, my Virizion EX/Genesect EX deck, my Kingdra/Greninja deck, and my bad Umbreon Plasma deck that I really need to get around to deconstructing.
Knowing there would be a lot of Virizion in the meta, I didn’t want to play Greninja because of its grass weakness. I’m not sure that it’s actually a bad matchup, but I didn’t want to go into a tournament with that heavy of a grass presence without more testing against it. I chose not to play my Virizion deck because I loathe most mirror matches, and didn’t want to play Virizion mirror round after round and I suspected some people would have some cards to make a fire deck.
Yveltal EX Deck
After grappling in tough fights with various Yveltal EX variants throughout State and Regional Championships I gained a lot of respect for Yveltal EX as a card. I was actually really high on Yveltal EX when XY came out, and my Xerneas Geomancy deck was built in large part to make full use of it, but after lackluster results with a lackluster deck, I falsely lost some faith in the card.
However, headed into this format, I knew Yveltal EX would be a major force as nothing from the new set really harms its place in the meta game, and I would argue some of the new constructs provide opportunity for Yveltal EX to be even better in the new format. So with that said, about a month ago I put together a Dark deck and have been tweaking it ever since.
I started off with the Zoroark deck that Kevin Baxter made Top 8 at Wisconsin Regional Championships with, but such a heavy Zoroark line didn’t seem like the best way to move forward with the deck, although I do appreciate what Zoroark brought to the deck.
After a solid month of testing, here is the list I came up for with the deck:
Pokemon – 13
3 Yveltal EX
Trainers – 36
4 Professor Juniper
1 Random Receiver
4 Ultra Ball
3 Muscle Band
1 Computer Search
2 Virbank City Gym
Energy – 11
This isn’t the exact list that I’ve been testing, but it’s the list I played for the League Challenge. I cut my Druddigon for a Pokemon Catcher as I didn’t expect to see Emboar or Blastoise at the tournament, and I cut my second Escape Rope for another Pokemon Catcher as I didn’t expect Garbodor to see much play either. I thought the 2 Pokemon Catcher would be especially effective in a Virizion filled meta game for bringing up Genesect’s that just got Emerald Slashed to, in order to knock them out with Evil Ball before they can attack me.
While I run a lot of different Pokemon lines, I would still classify this as strictly an Yveltal EX deck. Everything I do with the deck in playing it is similar to how any more straight forward Yveltal EX deck would be played. It’s more of an Yveltech deck, where Yveltal EX is the main focus and everything else is just techs to help with various matchups.
I ended up going with Raichu and Zoroark as my Safeguard counters. I like Raichu a lot because it has free retreat, so if I start with Pikachu, I can then evolve into Raichu while using Dark Patch on an Yveltal EX on the deck. It’s great for knocking out opposing Yveltal EX and Lugia EX, and can knockout Sigilyph DRX and Suicune PLB with a full bench, or Pyroar with a Muscle Band or Hypnotoxic Laser.
I also played Zoroark, which might be silly, but I do like the versatility it gives. With Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser you can max out at 170 damage with Brutal Bash, which can really swing a game for you. It does an even better job than Raichu at knocking out Safe Guarders. Now there are some things going against the Zoroark inclusion, the first being that by playing Raichu, I am adding non-Darkness Pokemon to the mix, which can decrease the damage of Brutal Bash. This is easily played around by just being diligent in what I bench. The other potential issue is that I only play a 1-1 line, which could be in theory inconsistent. But I found in testing that I could just see if a part of the line was prized on my first deck search and figure out if I would try to setup Zoroark that game or not based off the initial search.
Darkrai EX is a great 1-of to give my Pokemon free retreat as well as providing an alternative attacking strategy. Night Spear is still very good!
Spiritomb is mainly in there to prevent my opponent from using G-Booster, but by playing Computer Search, I can also play my Ace Spec early, and then play down Spiritomb, as Junk Hunt is more of a utility attack in this type of deck rather than your main strategy like it has been in past Dark decks.
I think Computer Search is the right Ace Spec for a Yveltal EX deck. There’s a lot of good reasons to play Dowsing Machine, as it can be a 5th Dark Patch or 5th Hypnotoxic Laser, or a 3rd Pokemon Catcher, or another Escape Rope without having to Junk Hunt, but I found being able to search my decks for Double Colorless Energy or just get off to a better start when I open Computer Search to be of greater value to the deck, especially when I like to utilize Spiritomb in a lot of my games.
I don’t think this is necessarily the right way to play Yveltal EX, but I really don’t like all the space you have to use to properly play Garbodor in the deck, so I shied away from that version. That may be the superior version of the deck, but this is just how I wanted to play the deck and the way I felt most comfortable playing it. Utilizing the shaky Stage 1 lines can take a lot of thinking, but I do think they provide good value, and obviously help the deck a lot against Pyroar.
Round 1 – Pyroar/Reshiram/Charizard EX?
Round 2 – Virizion EX/Genesect EX/Raichu XY
This round I am going against a Virizion EX/Genesect EX deck. He also played Raichu as a counter to Yveltal EX. He starts with just a Genesect EX and begins attaching to that. I was hoping to knock that out early on, but he was able to retreat into Virizion EX.
I make sure to get Spiritomb onto my bench so he can’t use G-Booster his game. I get enough Energy, a Muscle Band, and Hypnotoxic Laser to OHKO his Virizion EX. He has a Raichu readying on his bench, so I know I’ll lose this Yveltal EX.
I have the choice to go for a Raichu, unsure of if I’ll get the Double Colorless, or go with the sure thing in Yveltal EX, which is the route I go after he knocks out my first Yveltal EX. I’m looking at my discard and have 3 Dark Patch in there already, and know I won’t be able to really setup a big Yveltal EX to sweep with, so I choose to Dark Patch to Darkrai EX and then Y-Cyclone a Dark Energy to Darkrai EX, knocking out his Raichu. He then responds with the Raichu Circle Circuit KO on my Yveltal EX.
With three prizes left, I need to figure out a way to manufacture my last three prizes. The Raichu is obvious, but the secondary knockout is more difficult to discern. He has a few Virizion EX on his bench, so I surmise that going for the Darkrai EX KO on one of those is my best option. I use Night Spear to knockout the Raichu and snipe 30 to a Virizion EX.
He promotes the Genesect EX and I have to hope he doesn’t have a Grass Energy to attach to the Virizion EX. He does, but attaches it to the other Virizion EX. If he put it on that Virizion EX, I guess I would have just targeted the other one and hoped for the best.
I use Pokemon Catcher and hit heads, and bring up the Virizion EX. I use Hypnotoxic Laser, and then play a Professor Juniper, but whiff the Muscle Band for game. So I retreat to my Sableye, knowing I’m probably safe, as he can’t attach for Red Signal as well as attach to the Virizion EX to retreat. I have a Pokemon Catcher in hand and Junk Hunt the other Pokemon Catcher and a Muscle Band, setting myself up for a potential win next turn if I hit the Catcher heads.
He goes for the win on that turn, using Red Signal on my Darkrai EX, and then plays either a Professor Juniper or Colress to try to draw into his Skyarrow Bridge. He whiffs the Bridge and Virizion EX is trapped Active, so I was able to just use Night Spear for the game.
Round 3 – Virizion EX/Genesect EX/Floette FF/Raichu XY
I actually had played some games against this version of the deck and I thought it was quite good. Floette adds +20 HP to Grass Pokemon, so turning Virizion EX and Genesect EX into 210 HP Pokemon can make it difficult to knock them out with Yveltal EX when you can make use of Hypnotoxic Laser either.
My opponent didn’t get the best start in this game, but I did prize my Spiritomb which was spooky for me. Because of my opponent’s slow start, I was able to Y-Cyclone a Virizion EX twice for the knockout while moving Energy to my other Yveltal EX on my bench. I pulled Spiritomb from my prizes and instantly played it down.
I put another Double Colorless Energy onto my Yveltal EX to OHKO a Genesect EX with no Energy on it thanks to Muscle Band. He gets a Floette, Red Signals up one of my Yveltal EX with no Energy, and N’s me to 2. I get a Double Colorless off the N and attach it, retreat, and then Evil Ball for 240 for game.
Round 4 – Aromatisse
I didn’t start with a Supporter, but was able to 2HKO his Thundurus EX with Evil Ball to get 2 prizes, and I got off a Colress for 5, and from there, I was able to keep momentum all game. Thanks to being able to use my Hypnotoxic Lasers, I was able to get knockouts easier with Yveltal EX’s Evil Ball, although I think I could have gotten enough Energy for the 2nd KO on his Yveltal EX for a KO without Laser.
I ended the game by hitting heads on Pokemon Catcher to bring up his Genesect EX, which had a bunch of Plasma Energy on it from Red Signals and was able to use that Energy to get enough damage for a final KO.
I don’t think my opponent drew particularly well this game, because I know he plays Suicune for example, but I don’t remember it hitting the field ever and it just never felt like he had what he would have wanted in hand for most of the game.
Overall, I was very happy with how my Yveltal EX deck performed. My hypothesis of Yveltal EX being good because it requires minimal setup and has few truly bad matchups proved right. I played against two decks with Raichu counters and was still able to prevail. Through testing I knew that the Zoroark and Raichu lines wouldn’t get in the way of the main strategy of the deck and was happy that that proved true for me during an actual tournament.
I think Yveltal EX is probably the strongest card in the format right now and its archetype is clearly Tier 1. It will definitely be on my shortlist of decks that I choose from for U.S. Nationals in July.