Florida Regional Recap – Penguins, Bats, and a Death to Grass

Barry_EmpoleonThe first tournament in the Primal Clash format has completed, and the format has turned out a bit batty to say the least. As this is the first tournament with the set, the meta game is surely underdeveloped, but the meta game is likely headed in a much different direction than most players figured it would go just a few  days ago.

For a comprehensive breakdown of results from the Regional Championships, make sure to check out our Winter Regional Championship Results page. It has all of the results from the Standard format, and will have Expanded results updated early in the week after all information is collected for the tournament.

In this article, I will be looking at the major storylines that have emerged from this past weekend’s Florida Regional Championship.

Archie’s Ace in the Hole

archies-ace-in-the-hole-primal-clash-pcl-124-312x441When players first saw this card, it wasn’t quite clear what the best pairing would be for it. Blastoise BCR, Swampert PCL, Empoleon DEX, and Primal Kyogre EX were the most popular ideas that players had for using the card. As it turns out, Archie reached down into his hole and pulled out an Empoleon!

When talking about this pairing, we can start with Orion Craig, who used it in his Flareon deck, which he used to win the entire tournament. Orion played two Empoleon DEX in his Flareon list, which he would toss into the discard pile with Battle Compressor, as well as throw Archie’s Ace in the Hole in, and then he could play his hand down, use Archie’s Ace in the Hole and get an Empoleon onto the field.

This list isn’t exactly Orion’s list, but it’s pretty close from what I saw on the stream. I’m pretty sure I saw 2 Ditto in his list, and I think 2 Float Stone as well, and I’m not sure if he played the N or not. I played some tournaments on PTCGO with this list, and it was very powerful, so it’s easy to see why he could win the tournament with it.

Pokemon – 23

3 Eevee PLF
1 Eevee FFI
4 Flareon PLF
3 Leafeon PLF
2 Exeggcute PLF
1 Swirlix PHF
1 Slurpuff PHF
1 Mr. Mime PLF
1 Ditto BCR
2 Audino BCR
2 Empoleon DEX
2 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Juniper
1 Lysandre
1 N
1 Archie’s Ace in the Hole
1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

1 Computer Search
4 Acro Bike
4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor
1 Town Map

2 Silver Bangle
1 Float Stone

1 Training Center

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless
2 Water
1 Grass

flareon-plasma-freeze-plf-12I was very skeptical of Flareon headed into the tournament, but I think the Empoleon really helps to round the entire deck together. One deck that Flareon really struggled against was Landorus EX/Crobat PHF, but Empoleon turned the matchup upside down, turning Landorus EX, who had been a very strong attacker against Flareon, into a major liability.

The deck is pretty strong against anything that is EX based, as Flareon can start OHKO’ing EX’s as early as turn 2, and it does so while trading one prize for two. Of the two speed decks, Flareon had a stronger Toad matchup because of its high Leafeon PLF count, which could hit Seismitoad EX for weakness.

Overall, three Flareon decks made Top 32 out of the Standard format. Flareon was almost exclusively played around the Florida area during City Championships, so it was fitting that Flareon ended up winning their Regional tournament.

The Night March Continues

joltik-phantom-forces-phf-26-312x441One of the biggest stories of the first weekend of Regional Championships was the success of Night March. I think quite a few players still wrote the deck off, but Night March proved that it’s here to stay after it marched into Florida and managed to grab four of the Top 32 spots. Adrian Rodriguez continued to play the deck into Expanded, and managed to take it to a Top 8 finish.

I’m not 100% sure on the contents of one of the Night March decks, but from the looks of it, two of the Night March players just went with a straight forward Night March list, while two of the players used the same trick as the Flareon decks  and played Empoleon DEX along with Archie’s Ace in the Hole.

I think all of the Night March decks opted to play a high Acro Bike count. I think that Acro Bike is the stronger play in the deck whenever you aren’t under Item lock, but with Seismitoad EX still having a strong presence in the meta game, I’m not sure that I would have been comfortable playing Acro Bike over more Supporters that I would be able to play under Item lock.

Here’s a look at what some of the Night March decks looked like down in Florida:

Pokemon – 18

3 Mew EX
4 Joltik PHF
4 Pumpkaboo PHF
4 Lampent PHF
1 Mr. Mime PLF
1 Empoleon DEX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
1 Teammates
1 N
1 Archie’s Ace in the Hole
2 Lysandre

1 Computer Search
3 Acro Bike
4 VS Seeker

3 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor
1 Escape Rope

2 Muscle Band
2 Hard Charm
1 Silver Bangle

4 Dimensional Valley

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless
4 Water

Again, this isn’t an exact list that anyone used, but a list that is close to the concept that is being used.

I don’t really think the deck needs Empoleon DEX to beat Landorus EX/Crobat PHF, but Repeat Ball certainly speeds up LandyBats a little bit, and it is one of the tighter matchups, so I do think that it is a fabulous tech choice given how much LandyBats showed up at the tournament.

The Return of Empoleon/Dusknoir

empoleon-dark-explorers-dex-29While Empoleon was busy making cameo appearances in Flareon and Night March, it still made a splash in its own deck, with Noel Totomuch making a splash into Top 32 with Empoleon DEX/Dusknoir BCR. The deck is an old concept that has come in and out of the format. The deck uses Miltank FLF and Empoleon DEX for one Energy attacks with good damage output, and then moves damage around with Dusknoir BCR to make sure not a single damage counter goes to waste.

Here is a list I put together for the deck and played some tournaments on PTCGO with.

Pokemon – 20

4 Piplup LTR
2 Prinplup LTR
4 Empoleon DEX
2 Duskull FLF
2 Dusknoir BCR
3 Miltank FLF
1 Jirachi EX
1 Mr. Mime PLF
1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Juniper
4 N
1 Teammates
1 Colress
1 Lysandre
1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

1 Computer Search
3 VS Seeker

3 Ultra Ball
3 Dive Ball
4 Rare Candy
1 Escape Rope
1 Target Whistle
1 Switch
1 Max Potion

1 Muscle Band
2 Silver Bangle

2 Training Center

Energy – 6

6 Water

dive-ball-primal-clash-pcl-125-312x441 (1)This deck actually has picked up a lot of nice tools to use in the past few sets. Dive Ball, coming out in Primal Clash, is great for giving the deck some extra consistency. Training Center is really cool, as it can boost Empoleon’s HP up to 170, making it very difficult to knockout, and with Max Potion in the deck that is very strong.

Target Whistle is very good when combined with Dusknoir BCR. A lot of decks are tying together their Supporter engines with a high reliance on Jirachi EX, so if your opponent plays Jirachi EX that’s an easy two prizes you can take, and then you can play Target Whistle to put it back on your opponent’s bench, and then knock it out again with Sinister Hand.

Finally, Lysandre’s Trump Card allows you to put all of your resources back into your deck, letting you get back Rare Candy, any Pokemon you discarded, as well as clutch cards like Max Potion.

The entire deck can easily be shut down by Quaking Punch, so it’s still a very risky play for this format.

Land of the Bats

crobat-phantom-forces-phf-33-312x441Landorus EX/Crobat PHF was a deck that swooped in and made a big name for itself during the first weekend of Regional Championships, getting many players into Top 32, as well as taking home first place in St. Louis and second place in Virginia in the Expanded portion of the tournament.

The deck finished with the third most top finishes during week 1 of Regional Championships and followed it up with the most Top 32 finishes at Florida Regionals, so it might be time to start looking at this deck as a BDIF candidate.

In the pre-tournament article, we covered a more deliberate version of the deck that used Korrina for a very deliberate setup. Here is a Colress based list, which is basically a new format list of the version Andrew Mahone used to win St. Louis Regional Championships.

Pokemon – 18

2 Landorus EX
1 Lucario EX
3 Hawlucha FFI
4 Zubat PLS
4 Golbat PHF
3 Crobat PHF
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Colress
2 Lysandre

1 Computer Search
3 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball
2 Repeat Ball
4 Super Scoop Up
3 Muscle Band

3 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 9

5 Fighting
4 Strong

super-scoop-up-furious-fists-frf-100-ptcgo-1-312x441This version is very aggressive, and it is somewhat flip reliant on the Super Scoop Ups, but it is a very effective way to play the deck. SSU allows you to pick up Crobat lines so that you can play them back down to get additional damage, as well as to heal your Landorus EX and Lucario EX if they get too much damage on them and are being threatened with a knockout. Finally, you can pick up Jirachi EX with it to re-use it to get more Supporters, or just to get it off the field.

Scoop Up Cyclone is still an option in this version of the deck, but Computer Search is very strong in this just to give you another consistency option.

target-whistle-phantom-forces-phf-106-312x441One really cool tech that was seen in the deck was Target Whistle. I know Daniel Altavilla played it, and some others probably did as well. This lets you put back low HP Pokemon, in particular Jirachi EX’s, and take a second knockout. For example, later in the game, after you’ve knocked out Jirachi EX, if you have two Golbat on your field, you could potentially play Target Whistle to bring Jirachi EX back onto your opponent’s bench, play down two Crobat to place 60 damage onto the Jirachi EX, and then finish it off with Hammerhead or Skill Dive.

Seismitoad EX Keeps Quaking On

seismitoad-ex-furious-fists-frf-20-ptcgo-1-312x441While there were a lot of strong counters to Seismitoad EX in Primal Clash such as Barrier Pokemon and harder hitting Fairy Pokemon, Seismitoad EX has managed to maintain its position as one of the cornerstones of the meta game.

Seismitoad EX saw itself being built with Garbodor DRX, Charizard EX, Crobat PHF, Manectric EX, as well as a key component of many Yveltal EX decks during the tournament. In total 11/32 Top 32 decks used Seismitoad EX, including the three Yveltal EX decks that finished atop the standings after Day 1 of Swiss.

I think a lot of Seismitoad EX’s success here was a result of Landorus EX/Crobat PHF becoming the dominant meta force at the tournament, as Seismitoad EX, especially when paired with Yveltal EX or with Garbodor DRX, makes for a strong counter to that deck. Additionally, the format has moved towards some faster decks such as Flareon PLF and Night March, and preventing them from being able to play Items is a good way to slow those decks down.

Ability Lock Was Big

garbodor-dragons-exalted-drx-54While Garbodor DRX had fallen a bit out of favor during the first weekend of Regional Championships, it made a comeback into the format, being included in 7/32 Top 32 decks. The pairings for Garbodor DRX remain largely the same, being paired with Seismitoad EX in disruption based decks as well as being included with Yveltal EX, who has been teaming up with Garbodor ever since it came out in XY.

It made a lot of sense for Garbodor DRX to make a comeback into the meta game, as there are a lot of decks that use Abilities in this format. Out of the Top 32 decks, there were 9 Landorus EX/Crobat PHF decks, which use the Crobat lines Surprise Bite Abilities to supplement damage output, 4 Night March decks which used Mew EX and Empoleon DEX’s Abilities, 3 Flareon PLF decks, which use Empoleon DEX’s Diving Draw, Slurpuff PHF’s Tasting, and Audino BCR’s Busybody, and Exeggcute’s Propogation Abilities. Finally, there was an Empoleon DEX deck which used Empoleon’s Diving Draw, Dusknoir BCR’s Sinister Hand, and Exeggcute’s Propogation. Additionally, all of those decks used Jirachi EX’s Stellar Guidance as well. With over half of the Top 32 decks using Abilities with great impact, choosing to use an Ability lock deck made a lot of sense.

With Garbodor DRX beginning to see more play, it might be time for players to start putting Startling Megaphone or Xerosic back into their decks to remove its Tool and allow them to regain Abilities for a turn or two.

silent-lab-primal-clash-pcl-140-312x441Silent Lab was a tech Stadium that found its way into a lot of decks. Landorus EX/Crobat PHF decks included this as a 1-of to allow them to shutoff Mr. Mime’s Bench Barrier, allowing them to snipe with Hammerhead. The tech could be fairly disruptive against the Flareon decks that saw play during the first day of the tournament, as most players didn’t include a counter Stadium, so Silent Lab was able to shutoff Mr. Mime, Exeggcute PLF, Audino BCR, and Jirachi EX in the matchup.

A lot of players chose to string together Supporter engines that were heavily reliant on Jirachi EX, so Silent Lab could be used to shutdown an opponent’s draw at points in the game if Jirachi EX was their only out to a Supporter, and they had no counter Stadium in hand.

Silent Lab is a very interesting Stadium that warrants a lot of consideration, and could be used in some creative ways in this format. For example, Hawlucha FFI’s Shining Spirit Ability says its attacks aren’t affected by weakness and resistance, but if you play down Silent Lab, you can then OHKO Manectric EX and Darkrai EX’s by hitting them for weakness.

 Primal Groudon Breaks Through

primal-groudon-ex-primal-clash-pcl-86-312x441The only entirely new deck that managed to break through into the Top 32 at the tournament was Primal Groudon EX based decks. As I said in the pre-tournament article, I thought Primal Groudon EX was undoubtedly the most powerful card in Primal Clash, so it wasn’t too surprising that this was the new archetype that could break through and make it into Top 32. I also said it was a complex card and that it’s a bit of a mystery how it should be played, so it’s also not too surprising that only a few made it into Top 32.

In total, three Primal Groudon EX decks made it into Top 32. Kevin Baxter and Josh Marking both played the same list, which used Focus Sash to prevent KO’s and Andre Bortoni used a version with Masquerain PLB to move tools around. I haven’t heard much about Andre’s list, but I would be interested in seeing what array of tools he used to get the most out of Primal Groudon.

Here is a list of the deck built on Kevin and Josh’s mindset. This isn’t their exact list, you can go watch the stream of the tournament if you want to try to copy them card for card, but rather this is just how I was building the deck, and then I took out my Muscle Band and put in Focus Sash.

Pokemon – 12

3 Groudon EX
3 Primal Groudon EX
3 Hawlucha FFI
2 Landorus FFI
1 Landorus EX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Korrina
2 Colress
2 Lysandre
1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

2 Ultra Ball
3 VS Seeker
1 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Professors Letter
1 Max Potion
1 Tool Retriever
1 Scramble Switch

3 Focus Sash
3 Groudon Spirit Link

3 Fighting Stadium
1 Silent Lab

Energy – 10

6 Fighting
4 Strong

This deck is fairly slow to setup. You need four Energy on a Primal Groudon EX before you can start attacking with it, but once you do, you are in a very powerful position in most games. With 240 HP, Primal Groudon EX won’t get knocked out very easily, so you can usually take two knockouts with one of them, so if you knockout 2 EX’s, that’s an easy four prizes.

As 2HKO’s are more likely on a Primal Groudon EX, you play Scramble Switch in the deck, so after a Primal Groudon EX takes a hit, you can then Scramble Switch to another Primal Groudon EX and reset the damage clock for your opponent.

focus-sash-furious-fists-frf-91-ptcgo-1-312x441The Focus Sash was a very nice finishing touch for the deck. Hawlucha FFI can 2HKO EX’s with a Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium in play, so if you are able to keep your Hawlucha alive after its first swing, it trades very well with EX’s. Getting your Landorus FFI’s to survive for a second turn of acceleration is very strong as well, as keeping it alive will save you a turn of attachments, as well as probably another prize.

Finally, Focus Sash can be put on a Primal Groudon EX to allow it to survive OHKO attacks, such as M Gardevoir EX’s Brilliant Arrow and Camerupt EX’s Explosive Jet.

I haven’t played a ton with this deck, but I think the deck has some difficulties with very aggressive stuff like Night March and Flareon PLF, and while Landorus EX/Crobat PHF is certainly a winnable matchup, but it would appear to be difficult when they can hit your Primal Groudon EX with Golbat and Crobat droppings, as well as snipe from Landorus EX’s Hammerhead.

The Death of Virgen

virizion-ex-plasma-blast-plb-96-full-artA deck that some people hyped up as being the play for Florida was Virizion EX/Genesect EX. I am not really sure what these people were doing, except probably just trying to bait people into playing it so they would have more easy matchups.

Virgen is a deck that no longer has good matchups against a lot of the top decks. Fighting decks have always been difficult for Virgen, and the additional damage from the Crobat line really helps to push the matchup further out of reach.

Additionally, there just isn’t a good answer that Virgen has to the speed decks that are now starting to populate the meta game. Night March and Flareon, especially Flareon, both stomp all over Virizion EX/Genesect EX. Virgen just doesn’t have a solid response to this deck, and just has to hope they dead draw to win these matchups.

As long as Night March, Flareon, and Landorus EX/Crobat PHF have strong presences in the meta game, you should not be playing Virgen, it won’t do well. These three decks made up 16/32 Top 32 slots, so half of the Top 32 decks were decks that Virgen is very bad against, so it’s easy to see why Virgen failed to make Top 32.

People at the tournament told me that Virgen was barely even played. I think a lot of players saw the writing on the wall for Virgen and simply chose to abandon it.

The Stuff That Didn’t Make Top 32

The decks that were able to make Top 32 at the tournament were concentrated to just a few archetypes. The following decks failed to make Top 32 at this tournament:

  • Aromatisse (Neither M Gardevoir EX, Florges EX, or Tool Box)
  • Bronzong (Neither M Aggron EX or Basic Attackers)
  • Primal Kyogre EX
  • Virizion EX/Genesect EX
  • Donphan
  • M Manectric EX decks

While some of these decks are probably in for a rough time in this format, I would caution just writing off any of these decks as not being viable for State Championships.

m-gardevoir-ex-primal-clash-pcl-106-312x441Some of these decks, such as M Aggron EX and Donphan PLS didn’t see a lot of play. Others, such as M Gardevoir EX/Aromatisse XY probably needs more development in how players build the deck as well as how they play it.

I don’t think Virizion EX/Genesect EX or M Manectric EX decks are going to be very viable for State Championships, but I still believe that the other four archetypes will be able to find some success as we get to State Championships, they just need to be refined for the new new format.


This tournament is a very important tournament to consider moving forward. There were a lot of good players there, and it will provide us the basis of our State Championship meta game.

Still, at the end of the day, it is only one tournament. You can’t definitively define the meta game off of just this one tournament. There was only a week off as the format shifted, so lists for the new stuff are still in rough draft form, and will surely be refined as we move towards State Championships at the end of March.

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