This past weekend, Pokemon State Championships started up for this year kicking off another month of weekend after weekend play of Pokemon. Luckily, for the past two years, Missouri has held their State Championship during the first weekend of the series so I didn’t have to travel very far, living just 10 minutes away from Yeti Gaming where the tournament was held.
It would be my first major tournament since the St. Louis Regional Championship in February. I opted out of going to Florida Regional Championships so I could use the money that I would have spent going there to buy some tickets for a Taylor Swift concert in the fall. If I were to have gone to that tournament, I would have probably played an Exeggutor lock deck, something that was testing fairly well for me right before St. Louis.
Another deck that I was testing and holding in high regard prior to Florida was Donphan. Here is an example of some of my thoughts about the deck prior to Florida.
After Florida, for whatever reason I ended up not doing as much testing with Donphan, and devoting most of my testing time to Exeggutor. I really love playing lock decks, so that probably played a large role in that.
I took Exeggutor to a League Challenge, playing it with Slurpuff PHF and Swampert PCL, as well as Tropius PLB and took a 3rd place finish. The deck was okay during that tournament, but it suddenly seemed a lot more fragile once I was in a situation where losses couldn’t just be brushed off. Additionally, my online testing was showing similar findings. Fast Seismitoad EX locks were very difficult to get past, and the deck lost most of its games against Seismitoad EX decks, even when I put Shaymin EX into the deck to give it even more options for hitting Seismitoad for weakness.
From there, I moved onto Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX, which I used for two first places during City Championships, but I went 2-3 in a League Challenge with it, so that shook my confidence in the deck some, and it seemed like it would be tough to play with so many other decks playing Seismitoad EX, as my version of the deck always struggled with other Seismitoad decks.
From there, I scrambled around the week before trying to figure out a deck to play. I went back and forth between Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX, Exeggutor, Primal Kyogre EX, Manectric EX/Crobat PHF and Seismitoad EX/Slurpuff PHF. None of the decks were quite giving me the results I was wanting, so I kept on searching for something to play.
Out of those decks, Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX was still giving me the best results, so I looked for other people’s thoughts on the deck, most important of which were Dylan Dreyer’s Underground Article detailing his first seed Swiss finish in Florida, as well as his Team Fish Knuckles interview about the deck.
I floated the idea of just net decking Dylan Dreyer’s Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX for the tournament and most people agreed that it was an excellent idea.
Using Dylan Dreyer’s list as a guide, here is the list that I put together for the tournament.
Pokemon – 14
3 Yveltal EX
Trainers – 34
4 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
2 Virbank City Gym
Energy – 12
With the deck, I left the Trainer and Energy lines completely untouched, the Pokemon are the only thing that I messed with from Dylan’s list.
The first change I made was to take out a 1-1 Garbodor line for a 1-1 Raichu line. I thought Yveltal would be the most popular deck at the tournament and that it would be the deck that I played the most so I wanted to include something that would help give me an edge in the mirror match.
In the testing games I did, even at a 1-1 line, Raichu made a big difference in the mirror match. It really puts the opponent in a difficult situation, and can easily cause a four prize swing in the game. If you can attack with Raichu when your opponent only has one Yveltal EX with Energy on it, and knock out that Yveltal EX, you guarantee that Raichu will survive into the next turn as mini Yveltal and Seismitoad EX both cap at 80 damage with Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser with Virbank City Gym, falling 10 short of the KO on Raichu. If you can then follow up the turn with a Lysandre on another Yveltal EX, you can quickly knock out that one too.
If your opponent chooses not to bench any Yveltal EX because of Raichu, you win anyhow, as you then just overpower them with your own Yveltal EX. It was very easy to take knockouts on Yveltal EX with Raichu in this deck, as with Hypnotoxic Laser and Muscle Band you didn’t even need a full bench to score the KO’s.
The other change that I made was to take out a Seismitoad EX and put in a Keldeo EX so I could use Rush In to get out of Poison and Sleep. This was obviously very strong to have in the Yveltal mirror match as well as against Seismitoad EX decks. Something really nice about this deck is that it already plays Float Stone, so you can attach that to Keldeo EX for free retreat and can save a bench spot by not benching Darkrai EX. This is especially good against Fighting decks where Darkrai EX would be a liability when it’s on the field.
I decided to keep the 1-1 Garbodor line in the deck instead of cutting it for other stuff, such as a thicker Raichu line, or something like Energy Switch, as Garbodor was absolutely needed to win some matchups. Without Garbodor, Crobat decks became a much more difficult matchup and any random Bronzong or Aromatisse decks I could potentially face also became very difficult to compete in.
The 1-1 lines were fairly easy to search out in this list as it had 4 Ultra Ball, so if you wanted one of them for a given matchup you would just prioritize getting them out by using your first Ultra Ball of the game to get the Basic.
Round 1 – Kyle Lane – Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX/Kyurem NVI
This was a scary matchup to see in the first round of the tournament as Thundurus EX can hit Yveltal EX for weakness and that can turn into OHKO’s when powered up by Deoxys EX. Luckily, the matchup has become much better than it was last year thanks to Seismitoad EX. If you can establish an early Item lock with Seismitoad EX and get Garbodor into play than you’re in terrific shape to win the matchup.
In the first game, both of us started the game for the first few turns without Supporters. I was fortunate to be able to get two Yveltal EX, Darkrai EX, and two Darkness and a Double Colorless Energy in my opening hand and first few draws to be able to get a turn 2 Y-Cyclone and then chain it between two Yveltal EX to get an early lead in the first game before we both broke out of the Supporter drought. He had quite a few turns more of no Supporters than me and was too far behind to make a comeback.
The second game was similarly clunky, but ended up very close. He had been able to get some Hard Charm down on his Pokemon at the beginning of the game before I could establish Item lock, which made it much more difficult to knock them out with Seismitoad EX. While he had much more draw in this game, I don’t think he was actually drawing the best hands off his Supporters. I was just barely able to take a KO on a Thundurus EX for my last two prizes on the third turn of time.
Round 2 – Justin Aaron – Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX
This was my first mirror match of the day and it went about as well as I could hope. I ended up dropping the first game which was unfortunate, but the 1-1 Raichu doesn’t have the best consistency, so it can’t get it done all the time.
The second game ended up being pretty close, but I forced him into a situation where he couldn’t attack with Yveltal EX when he really needed to use it, so even though I never attacked with Raichu in this game, just the threat of Raichu was able to make a big difference in the game.
I don’t remember much of the third game, as this was pretty early in the tournament, but this one was much more in my favor than the second game, and I think Raichu played a big role in this win as well. I ended up taking my last prize on one of the turns of time to narrowly avoid the tie.
Round 3 – Brit Pybas – Seismitoad EX/Jynx FFI
Headed in I knew Brit was playing some type of Seismitoad EX deck, but wasn’t quite sure what was all in there, so I just prioritized getting Keldeo EX and Darkrai EX onto the field in the matchup so I could get out of status effects and move around under the Item lock.
The variant of Seismitoad EX that Brit was playing was a new version of the deck that played Jynx FFI for healing, and then played Acro Bikes, Roller Skates, Random Receiver, and its only Supporters appeared to be 4 Professor Juniper and 1 Lysandre’s Trump Card. The deck also played Super Scoop Up to pick up damaged Seismitoad EX’s.
In the first game, I just tried to poke at the Seismitoad EX’s with mini Yveltal, and then swing away with Yveltal EX with Evil Ball to pick up 2HKO’s. Even with the Jynx healing, Yveltal EX would be able to score 2HKO’s. However, with Super Scoop Up, these KO’s could be denied. After this wasn’t working, I decided to just load up one big Yveltal EX that could OHKO his Seismitoad EX’s and hope for the best. As far as I could tell he didn’t play anything like Dedenne FFI or Mewtwo EX which could punish me for going to a big Yveltal EX, so I thought it was probably safe to load up a big Yveltal EX to OHKO the Seismitoad EX’s and even if it wasn’t, I didn’t have much choice except to go that route.
After getting six Energy onto an Yveltal EX, I was able to swing for 180 damage on a Seismitoad EX with a Double Colorless Energy attached, and then with Keldeo EX to break free of Poison damage, it would take three attacks to KO the Yveltal EX.
With that plan working in the first game, I decided to take the same approach in the second game. I got a very good start in this game, getting Keldeo EX with Float Stone on it turn 1, as well as a Seismitoad EX and Double Colorless Energy allowing me to use Quaking Punch on my first turn of this game. This was great as I could slow his deck down by denying him Items while I slowly setup an Yveltal EX on the bench to take OHKO’s.
Round 4 – Collin Hendrickson – M Gardevoir EX/Aromatisse XY
This is a very difficult matchup for the deck as M Gardevoir EX can easily OHKO everything in your deck once your opponent gets a field setup. The way to beat the deck is to deny your opponent the ability to move Energy around with Aromatisse, and an early Item lock with Seismitoad EX is great as it can deny your opponent the ability to use Ultra Ball to find a Xerneas XY to accelerate Energy or to search out Gardevoir EX or M Gardevoir EX to ge tthose setup.
This was a very weird series, in that I had a very poor start in the first game of the series, having to use Pound with Trubbish as my attack for a few turns pretty far into the game, but I managed to get some favorable Hypnotoxic Laser flips with Seismitoad EX active which allowed me to pull out the game.
In the second game, I managed to get a quick Garbodor out, but it didn’t matter too much and I was trampled over pretty badly.
The third game ended up incomplete. My opponent had difficulty getting M Gardevoir EX out in the third game, so I wasn’t under too much pressure and think I had a good chance of pulling out the win, but it’s really difficult to tell in this matchup as lots of shenanigans can happen in this matchup with Lysandre’s Trump Card allowing the Aromatisse player to get their resources back.
Round 5 – Kyle Haverland – Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX
This would be the best test of how important my Raichu tech would be in the Yveltal EX mirror match. Kyle entered the tournament in the Top 16 in North America in Championship Points and he had done it exclusively with Yveltal EX decks so he obviously was very skilled with the deck.
The matches were very close for the most part, but I was able to take the series 2-1 thanks very much into Raichu who was the MVP of the matchup. This was the first series where Escape Rope netted me a win as well. In the third game, I was able to pull away quite a bit, and Kyle had missed an attachment after I had N’d him, and he just had a field of something like Seismitoad EX, Jirachi EX, Yveltal EX, and Yveltal XY. He used Quaking Punch with Seismitoad EX to Item Lock me. I used Rush In and then retreated into my Raichu, knowing it wouldn’t be knocked out the next turn as he didn’t have an Yveltal EX with any Energy on it. I used Circle Circuit on the Seismitoad EX for 100.
On his next turn, he had to retreat into Yveltal XY as I could knockout the Seismitoad EX on the next turn of the game. I just planned on going into my own Seismitoad EX to Quaking Punch his mini Yveltal while trying to find a Lysandre to finish the game. I played my Professor Juniper and got an Escape Rope though, which let me end the game there. With just Yveltal EX, Jirachi EX, and a Seismitoad EX with 100 damage on his bench, I had the game.
Round 6 – Charles Larenas Leach – Donphan PLS/Primal Groudon EX
This was a very great moment for a couple of reasons.
First, Charles had played Donphan with Primal Groudon EX. Here is an article that I had written on the deck a couple of weeks ago. Charles tells me that he is playing the exact sixty card list from that article and thanked me for putting the list online. It was awesome to see him not only play the deck but also do really well with the deck.
Secondly, making Top 8 meant that I would walk away from the tournament with at least 50 more Championship Points, which meant that I would now be at at least 301 Championship Points after the tournament, which meant that with the intentional draw, I had gained my invitation to the World Championship in August.
This will be my first World Championship that I get to compete in as a competitor. I tried to grind into the World Championship through the Last Chance Qualifier last season with Kingdra PLF/Greninja XY but was knocked out in the third round.
Top 8 – Kevin Norton – Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX
I knew that I would be playing another mirror match. The mirror matches I had played in Swiss were closer than I had hoped they would be with the Raichu tech, so I wanted to figure out the mirror match some more. I turned to my friend JW Kriewall and asked for some advice on the matchup. I told him that Raichu was probably saving me from sub optimal play, so I told him to pretend that I wasn’t playing Raichu in the deck and asked what was the best way to approach the matchup. The advice he gave me was great, and really helped me out in my matchup on Sunday.
This series went very well for me, but Raichu ended up being of little impact and I just relied on JW’s advice to guide me through the match.
In the first game I had prized my Raichu, but was able to get off to a fast aggressive start going first and got out to a pretty good lead. I had some trouble finishing off the game without Raichu, but I was in a decent enough position to finish it off. I ended up getting my Raichu out of the prizes when I took my 4th and 5th prizes after knocking out an EX and then knocked out an Yveltal XY with Circle Circuit to finish the game.
The second game was a bit of a blow out. I went second, and after my opponent used N on turn 1, I had a Professor Juniper and both Pikachu and Raichu in hand. I had no choice except to discard them in this game, so I used Ultra Ball to get Seismitoad EX, and got the turn one Quaking Punch off with Hypnotoxic Laser and a Muscle Band and was able to take fast control of the game. I believe the poison even knocked out his Pokemon coming back into my turn. I think my opponent must have gotten a Float Stone on his Trubbish on his first turn, as I just used Quaking Punch to start the game, but he got a Garbodor out, which shut down his Dark Cloak. Therefore, I was able to just Lysandre up a Seismitoad EX with no Energy on it, use a Hypnotoxic Laser and Quaking Punch again guaranteeing myself two more prizes before my opponent would be able to take any.
I think my opponent then was able to knock out that Seismitoad EX with an Evil Ball, but then I was able to just respond the next turn with my own Evil Ball for the win.
Top 4 – Jay Young – Manectric EX/Crobat PHF
You can actually just watch my Top 4 (as well as the Finals) at this link on Twitch.
This was a very difficult matchup to have to play, but with Darkrai EX, Raichu XY and Seismitoad EX, I had plenty of attackers that werne’t weak to Lightning to use in the matchup. Yveltal EX is also very useful in the matchup as an Yveltal EX with four Energy, a Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser with Virbank City Gym in play can OHKO a Manectric EX. I also had Garbodor DRX which could shutoff the Crobat line from adding supplemental damage.
The first game started off somewhat promising as far as the Pokemon I was able to get benched, but after whiffing not only the Double Colorless to attack with Seismitoad EX but also a Dark Energy to even get an Oblivion Wing off I fell too far behind and was overrun by his onslaught of Assault Laser.
The second game looked very bleak as I started lone Trubbish along with no Supporters. On his second turn, Jay uses two Golbat to put 40 damage on Trubbish and then plays a Supporter, if he gets Lightning and Muscle Band my tournament is over. He missed on both of those cards. I draw an Ultra Ball for my turn and use it to get Jirachi Ex and Stellar Guidance for a Professor Juniper and draw a Garbodor to shutoff further bat damage. I get a Pikachu too, and just start using Nuzzle to try to paralyze his Manectric EX’s and buy some more time to setup, eventually drawing into a Seismitoad EX and using that to attack.
I had played three Hypnotoxic Laser that I had in my opening hand to try to put his Manectric EX to sleep to avoid getting benched. Because of this, before I even had much of a setup I had to play my Trump Card to get back resources for the long game.
This matchup is very difficult in large part because of Rough Seas, which makes it difficult to stick damage on a Manectric EX. It turns into a very slow matchup as you both are healing damage off your Active Pokemon. It was a very tricky matchup, and one that I just kind of had to make some guesses and hope they pay off.
I kind of just had to poke away at his Manectric EX’s and then when it got to a certain damage number, I could then play down my Virbank City Gym to stop the healing and go for a KO with Seismitoad EX. When I wanted a KO, I would always play an extra Hypnotoxic Laser to go for the sleep flip. This is important as if you nail the sleep flip, then they can’t retreat and it gets held captive in the Active position for a knockout.
I think I took one Manectric EX down this way, and then had to slowly trade damage with Rough Seas in play while setting up more Pokemon on the bench. I was able to setup both an Yveltal XY and an Yveltal EX. When the time came, I retreated into Yveltal XY and took a knockout on a Manectric EX. I had an out to a Lysandre in hand, as well as knockout possibilities on the field with both Yveltal XY and Yveltal EX, so I knew if Jay didn’t N me I had the win. He played a Lysandre to knockout my Yveltal EX, so then I knew I had the win and on my turn I used Lysandre on his Jirachi EX and knocked it out with Darkness Blade for my final two prizes.
In the third game, I got off to a really aggressive start knocking out a Zubat with Quaking Punch on the first turn of the game. From there, I knocked out a Manectric EX with Quaking Punch and Hypnotoxic Laser, and got down to three prizes very fast. However, as I was unable to get Garbodor, he was able to get bat damage, and take pretty good control of the game, although he had been missing some Energy attachments on a lot of his turns.
I really want to Evil Ball his Manectric EX for the knockout, but don’t have the cards to do it, so I just use Pound to try to set it up for the next turn. He knocks out my Trubbish, putting himself down to just one prize remaining. He had N’d me the turn before, and I got another hand with a Double Colorless in it, so I attached that to Yveltal EX and from there played a Colress. I needed either a Muscle Band or Hypnotoxic Laser to take the knockout and played Colress for 5, nabbing the Muscle Band on the fifth card to score the knockout.
As long as Jay didn’t N me, I had the win in hand with an Ultra Ball that I could use for Jirachi EX for Lysandre on a Golbat for my final prize. On my turn, I just top deck the Lysandre and take the improbable win.
This match was super close, and I was very fortunate that things happened to swing my way by the slimmest of margins.
Finals – Charles Larenas Leach – Donphan PLS/Primal Groudon EX
This was going to be a tough matchup, but it wasn’t unwinnable. With an early series of Quaking Punch, I can deny my opponent from playing down Robo Substitute and just take a few cheap prizes and then hope they clunk up being unable to use VS Seeker for Supporters.
In the first game, he drew kind of poorly, and I didn’t start out with a draw Supporter either, but I did have the Energy attachments to get a turn 2 Quaking Punch going first. I also had a Lysandre in hand which I could use as well, and then eventualy drew a Supporter and got a further setup and won easily enough.
The second and third games he was able to effectively use Primal Groudon EX and there wasn’t anything in my deck that could stop it from dominating the game.
You can read Charles tournament report on his blog. Obviously I wanted to win the tournament myself, but it was still really cool to see him do well with the deck and I was happy to see that he made the finals, even if it meant my imminent demise.
I was really happy with how this deck played. At some points in the tournament the deck seemed a bit clunky in getting setup, but for the most part it ran smooth enough. I think anytime you have two of the most powerful attackers in the same deck you can get by with some clunkiness as your raw attack power is so strong.
The changes I made from Dylan’s list really paid of big time in this tournament and I think they were integral to my success. Raichu was excellent in the mirror match, and Keldeo EX really solidified my Seismitoad matchup.
With the second place finish I got 90 Championship Points and am now up to 341 Championship Points. Not only will this put me into the World Championship in August, but I think that should give me enough points to guarantee myself a Travel Award for US Nationals which is terrific.