Weekend Report #3 – Night March Comes to Expanded

Mew

In this week’s edition of Weekend Report, I will go over my tournament experience at the Kansas Regional Championship, go over the results of the four Regional Championships that were played this weekend in Edmonton, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Utah, and also go over the results from Brazil’s National Championship.

Kansas Regional Championship Report

This past weekend, I attended the Kansas Regional Championship in Overland Park, Kansas. The tournament had 167 players, which meant that the tournament would have 8 rounds of Swiss and then cut to a Top 8.

flareon-plasma-freeze-plf-12I really wanted to build a new Vileplume deck for this weekend’s tournament, but a heavy work schedule left me with little time to test and fine tune a list, so I went with what I already had built, which was Vespiquen/Flareon.

I made three changes to my deck list from the one I played at the Wisconsin Regional Championship, which can be found here. I subtracted Jirachi XY67, Mr. Mime, and one of my Unown AOR out of the deck to add in an Umbreon DEX, Rotom FCO, and a Startling Megaphone.

Here is how my tournament played out:

Round 1 – Alex Mayfield – Trevenant BREAK/Hammers – WL (0-0-1)
Round 2- Dallas Wright – Yveltal EX/Maxie’s – WLL (0-1-1)
Round 3 – Thomas Haverman – Night March – WW (1-1-1)
Round 4 – Harry Wada – Yveltal EX/Maxie’s – WW (2-1-1)
Round 5 – Jennifer Bronson – Night March – WW (3-1-1)
Round 6 – Brit Pybas – Seismitoad EX/Glaceon EX/Crobat PHF – WW (4-1-1)
Round 7 – Jacob Brumfield – Turbo Darkrai –  LWL (4-2-1)
Round 8 – Nick Robinson – Yveltal EX/Maxie’s – WW (5-2-1)

In the end I finished with a 5-2-1 record and 19th place in the tournament, missing out on the Top 16 by a few percentage points of opponent’s win percentage.

As far as my tech choices, most of them were changes I would not make again. Dark had such a strong presence at this tournament that there wasn’t much Trevenant to be played against at the tournament. Additionally, the Trevenant version I played against was the hammer variant of the deck, which Umbreon is much weaker against because it can be pushed out of attacking in the game if its Energy gets removed enough times. Umbreon is a slow path towards victory against Trevenant decks, so there would be plenty of time to remove the Energy from it to prevent it from attacking for the rest of the game in the matchup.

One thing I did notice is that I could use Umbreon as a 5th Eevee evolution attacker in the Night March matchup if I prized poorly with Flareon, as Umbreon can KO both Joltik and Pumpkaboo if they don’t have Fighting Fury Belt attached.

rotom-fates-collide-fcl-24-312x441The Rotom was probably the better tech of the two for Trevenant, as preventing Silent Fear spread from decimating your field is very strong and it puts much more pressure on the Trevenant deck than Umbreon does. In the third game against the Trevenant deck I actually got a Float Stone on Rotom on turn 1, along with 10 Pokemon in the discard pile, putting me in a decent position to take the match if I could draw into my Energy when I needed them, being able to use Rotom to gain me some extra turns of setting up in the game as well.

While I would rather have the 4th Unown over any of these techs if I were to play the deck again, I recommend that people keep their mind open to experimenting with various techs in this type of deck, as Vespiquen and Flareon don’t discriminate against any Pokemon when it comes to powering up Bee Revenge and Vengeance, so you might find a gem of a tech for this deck if you keep experimenting. If you make a mistake on a tech, it doesn’t really get in the way of the deck being able to function as you will throw them into the discard pile with Battle Compressor.

It’s still important to point out that you want to maximize the potential of your list, so you don’t want to waste spots on useless cards, even if your deck still functions with misguided tech choices. If I had played 2 cards in Umbreon and Rotom’s place that helped the Dark matchup, that may very well have been the difference needed to flip a loss to a win and get into the Top 8. For example, if I had played Umbreon PLF and Mr. Mime in place of those two techs, I would have been in a stronger position to win my Dark matchups than with the tech choices I went with.

The Startling Megaphone on the otherhand was a terrific tech, allowing me to remove Life Dew in the Night March matchup and Fighting Fury Belt against Dark decks, making it easier to knock out their bulky EX Pokemon.

The deck played generally well for me throughout the tournament, but with the deck being more of a known entity in the meta game after not being a part of the meta for awhile headed into last weekend, I would look more intently at the Dark matchup and think of moves that could strengthen that matchup for future Expanded tournaments next season (such as putting Jolteon AOR back in the deck).

Here Comes Night March

Night March seeing success in the third weekend of Regional Championships really should not come as much of a surprise. During the first two weekends in the Black and White through BREAKpoint format, Night March was actually the fourth most successful deck overall, getting its highest finish in Georgia with Sam Liggett getting 2nd place with a Mew EX variant of the deck.

In week 3 with the arrival of Fates Collide, Night March jumped the line, taking 17.96% of the Championship Points that we tracked. With Fates Collide, Night March gained Mew, giving the deck another attacking option. This allows players to not only play builds similar to the Standard builds of the deck, but also build versions similar to the classic Night March deck, only this time your Mew only gives up one prize.

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The biggest showing for the deck was at the Kansas Regional Championship where Connor Finton took down Alex Hill in a Night March mirror match. To get to the finals, Alex Hill took an upset victory over Pearce Blend’s Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF deck and Jacob Brumfield’s Turbo Darkrai EX deck in Top 4. Connor Finton made his way to the finals by taking out Eric Gansman’s Vespiquen AOR/Flareon PLF deck in Top 8 and Max Armitage’s Yveltal EX/Maxie’s deck in Top 4.

Here is the list Alex and Chris used this past weekend:

Pokemon – 17

4 Joltik PHF
4 Pumpkaboo PHF
4 Lampent PHF
1 Mew FOC
1 Mr. Mime BKT
3 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 39

3 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Ghetsis
1 Teammates
1 Hex Maniac
2 Lysandre

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Battle Compressor
4 Puzzle of Time
3 Trainers’ Mail
2 Pokemon Catcher
1 Escape Rope
1 Target Whistle
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Computer Search
1 Float Stone
1 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Dimension Valley
1 Parallel City

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Other finishes for Night March include Edwin Lopez’s 2nd place finish in Massachusetts, Chris Schemanske’s 3rd place finish at Edmonton Regional, and Nathian Beck’s 4th place finish in Utah. A first, 2 seconds, and 2 Top 4’s is a very strong showing for a single deck.

With Night March taking control of the driver’s seat in the Expanded format, it’s hard to see it doing anything except dominating the upcoming Standard format that will take place during National Championships and then the World Championship in August.

 

Fates Collide Impacts Expanded

Much has been made about how Fates Collide is a flop in terms of its impact on the Expanded format, and this probably couldn’t be further from the truth.

Mew was the big hype card from Fates Collide, and it lived up to the hype elevating Night March to the top deck in the format. In addition to being played in Night March, Mew was also played this past weekend as a non-EX attacker in Turbo Darkrai decks and as a versatility card in Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX/Vileplume decks.

Wait a minute, a Glaceon EX deck? Yeah, that’s another card that had a big impact on the Expanded format this past weekend. It saw play in resurgent Blastoise decks, as an alternate attacker in Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF decks, and in the new Vileplume deck.

zygarde-ex-fates-collide-fcl-54-312x441The new Fighting Pokemon made their way into Expanded as well, with Harrison Frazier taking a Carbink BREAK/Zygarde EX deck into the Top 8 of Utah.

Umbreon EX was included in some players’ Dark variants (Turbo Darkrai and Yveltal EX decks) to strengthen their matchups against M Rayquaza EX and Primal Groudon EX decks.

Lastly, Team Rocket’s Handiwork found its way into TJ Traquair’s 2nd place Wailord EX deck at the Edmonton Regional. The Supporter card provides an upgrade over Trick Shovel for Wailord decks, milling on average 2 cards when you play it, but more importantly providing a discard option that can be re-used with VS Seeker.

While Fates Collide certainly didn’t upend the existing meta game, cards from the set certainly did add to existing decks and allowed some new concepts to add to the Expanded meta game.

An Icy Foe – The Power of Glaceon EX

glaceon-ex-fates-collide-fcl-20-312x441Jolteon EX was one of the most hyped cards during State Championship because of how it could lock certain types of decks out of the game once it became the only Pokemon in play. Glaceon EX, released in Fates Collide, fills a similar role, but instead of preventing damage from Basic Pokemon, Glaceon EX’s Crystal Ray prevents evolved Pokemon from damaging Glaceon EX.

This is fairly strong in Expanded with some very strong decks that attack almost exclusively with evolution Pokemon. Vespiquen/Flareon*, M Rayquaza EX, and Primal Groudon EX for example rely on attacking with evolution Pokemon which could find difficulty dealing with a Glaceon EX.

I put an asterisk next to Vespiquen/Flareon because it actually does have an easy tech option for dealing with Glaceon EX in Expanded. You can play Mew EX to copy Vengeance and Bee Revenge as an easy counter to Glaceon EX decks. I flirted with playing a Mew EX myself to counter Glaceon EX, but decided against it, thinking that not many players would be trying out new Fates Collide cards and that Night March would be very popular, and adding Mew EX to the deck would be adding another liability to my deck in the Night March matchup.

From a card design standpoint, I think one of the reasons that Mew FCO is only able to copy Basic Pokemon and not evolution Pokemon is to prevent it from being an easy counter to include in evolution decks to be used against Glaceon EX.

In standard format, Glaceon EX has a lot of potential to disrupt many of the top decks in the format. If you were to pair Glaceon EX with Rough Seas, it would appear as if Glaceon EX would give decks such as Trevenant BREAK, Vespiquen/Vileplume, M Rayquaza EX, and Greninja BREAk major headaches.

As far as Glaceon EX specific decks from this past weekend, the key one to take a look at are the Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX/Vileplume AOR decks that were played this past weekend. Here are a couple of these variants that performed well in Expanded this past weekend.

Sam Hough’s Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX/Vileplume

This is the deck list that Sam Hough used to take 3rd place at the Utah Regional Championship.

Pokemon – 22

2 Jolteon EX
1 Glaceon EX
1 Regice AOR
1 Latias EX
1 Mewtwo EX
1 Darkrai EX (DEX)
1 Wobbuffet GNR
3 Oddish BCR
3 Gloom BCR
3 Vileplume AOR
4 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 28

4 Professor Juniper
3 AZ
1 Colress
1 Skyla
2 N

4 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
3 Trainers’ Mail
1 Computer Search
2 Float Stone

4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 10

4 Rainbow
2 Prism
4 Double Colorless

This is a very strong, Expanded oriented denial deck. Jolteon EX prevents damage from Basic Pokemon, Glaceon EX prevents damage from evolution Pokemon, Regice prevents damage from EX Pokemon, and Latias EX prevents damage and effects from Pokemon with Abilities. Depending on what you’re going up against, you can choose which attacker to start powering up and use that along with Vileplume’s Item Lock to counter your opponent.

The Wobbuffet might seem out of place, but Archeops NVI is very popular in Expanded, so Wobbuffet can be necessary in some matchups if you want to evolve into Vileplume.

Similar to Vileplume decks during HGSS-DEX, the deck takes advantage of Darkrai EX’s Dark Cloak Ability to give free retreat to Basic Pokemon with Prism Energy attached and any Pokemon with Rainbow Energy attached.

Kevin Murphy’s Mew FOC/Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX/Vileplume AOR

The following is the deck list that Kevin Murphy used to take 18th place at the Kansas Regional Championship.

Pokemon – 19

3 Jolteon EX
2 Glaceon EX
2 Mew FOC
2 Oddish BCR
2 Gloom BCR
2 Vileplume AOR
3 Unown AOR
1 Manaphy EX
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore
1 AZ
1 N
1 Lysandre

1 Computer Search
4 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
4 Trainers’ Mail
2 Battle Compressor
2 Revitalizer
3 Float Stone

4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 11

4 WLFM Blend
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning
1 Water

This list is much more streamlined and focused, and this one is important to take a look at because Kevin’s deck takes very limited use of Expanded format cards.

The Expanded cards in the deck are Oddish and Gloom from Boundaries Crossed, Computer Search, and the 4 Blend Energy. You can simply port the deck over to Standard by switching out your Vileplume pre-evolutions for the Ancient Origins versions, switching the Blend Energy to Rainbow Energy (or more Basic Energy), and dropping Computer Search for another consistency card.

Mew is an interesting card because it gives you an option to shift between Jolteon EX and Glaceon EX as the game develops in different direction. It’s also a good starter because it has free retreat, allowing you to retreat into your preferable attacker for a given matchup easily.

Kevin used Manaphy EX to give everything with a Blend or Water Energy attached to it free retreat, fulfilling the same role as the Darkrai EX in Sam’s variant.

With Kevin being able to do so well in Expanded with what is mostly a Standard deck, it would only make sense for this version of the deck to be very viable in the Standard format as well.

Other Stories From Week 3

Finally, here is a brief recap of the other happenings of Week 3 of Regional Championships.

Vespiquen/Flareon Remains Strong

vespiquen_aoAfter making a resurgence during Week 2 of Spring Regional Championships, it looks like Vespiquen/Flareon is back to stay.

It appears two variants of the deck did well at Regional Championships this weekend. The first is the Wobbuffet/Tropical Beach variant that I featured last week and the other is a Beach-less version of the deck without Tropical Beach.

Gregory Fortier took the Wobbuffet/Beach variant to a 1st place finish in Edmonton, while Eric Gansman took that variant to a Top 8 finish at Kansas. Stephen Bates also finished in the Top 8 with a non-Beach version of the deck in Utah.

Here are some of the deck lists that saw success for this deck this past weekend:

Eric Gansman’s Vespiquen/Flareon

Pokemon – 27

4 Combee AOR
4 Vespiquen AOR
4 Eevee FFI
4 Flareon PLF
4 Unown AOR
1 Mr. Mime PLF
1 Jirachi XY67
1 Jolteon AOR
1 Wobbuffet PHF
2 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 26

3 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Colress
2 Lysandre
1 Blacksmith

4 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor
4 VS Seeker
1 Startling Megaphone
2 Float Stone
1 Life Dew

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless
3 Fire

Stephen Bates’ Vespiquen/Flareon

Pokemon – 27

4 Combee AOR
4 Vespiquen AOR
2 Eevee FFI
2 Eevee PLF
4 Flareon PLF
4 Unown AOR
1 Umbreon DEX
1 Jirachi XY67
1 Exeggcute PLF
3 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 26

2 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Teammates
1 Ghetsis
1 AZ
1 Lysandre
1 Hex Maniac
1 Blacksmith

1 Computer Search
4 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor
4 VS Seeker
1 Startling Megaphone
1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Parallel City
1 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless
3 Fire

As seen from the results this weekend, you can play this deck both with and without Tropical Beach. I do think the Wobbuffet PHF/Tropical Beach variant of the deck is a safer play with how popular Archeops NVI is in Expanded, but Hex Maniac does provide another option to getting around Archeops, at the cost of your Supporter for the turn.

While Vespiquen/Flareon’s days as one of the top deck’s Expanded may be over, it looks like the deck is back to stay and its exodus from the format was simply a result of an error in judgment from the player base. Overall it finished with the 5th most Championship Points of the placements we tracked, being powered by the 1st and 2 Top 8’s which makes for a fairly good weekend for the deck.

It’s Still Dark Outside

yveltal-ex-xy-144-pokegymUnsurprisingly, Dark decks were once again some of the top decks for the past weekend. While Night March usurped Yveltal EX for the top performing deck, Dark decks still did fine.

Yveltal EX was the 2nd most successful deck, taking a win in Utah, while Turbo Darkrai was the 4th most successful deck, finishing as high as 3rd.

The most popular variant of the deck this past weekend appeared to be net decks of Treynor Wolfe’s Wisconsin Regional Championship winning list.

The variant that Mark Garcia used to win Utah Regional was a speed Yveltal EX variant that played both Dark Patch and Max Elixir to get a lot of Energy onto the field very quickly.

Here is a list for the deck that Liam Williams posted onto Virbank City. He also took a Top 8 finish with the deck there:

Pokemon – 11

2 Yveltal EX
2 Darkrai EX (DEX)
1 Darkrai EX (BPT)
2 Yveltal BKT
1 Yveltal XY
2 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 37

3 Professor Juniper
1 N
1 Colress
1 Ghetsis
1 AZ
1 Lysandre
1 Hex Maniac
1 Delinquent

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Trainers’ Mail
4 Dark Patch
3 Max Elixir
2 Battle Compressor
1 Escape Rope
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Silent Lab
1 Parallel City

Energy – 12

9 Darkness
3 Double Colorless

And the Last Few….

  • Alex Wilson won Massachusetts Regional Championship with M Rayquaza EX, also including Aegislash EX and Basic Metal Energy. Somehow he overcame Night March in the finals…most likely by Ghetsis being very strong against Night March in Expanded.
  • Archie’s Blastoise made a bit of a comeback in Kansas. Brandon Cantu took a Top 8 finish with what looks like a standard set of attackers, while Rith Ke and Franco Llamas used a variant with Black Kyurem EX, Glaceon EX, and Jolteon EX for Top 16 finishes.
  • He did it again. For the second week straight, Ross Cawthon takes his Accelgor DEX/Wobbuffet PHF/Musharna NXD deck into the Top 8, this time at Edmonton Regional.
  • Most interesting decks in the Top 8’s were TJ Traquair’s 2nd place Wailord EX in Edmonton, Sam Hough’s Vileplume Box (featured above) in Utah, and Harrison Frazier’s Carbink BREAK/Zygarde EX in Utah.
  • While Trevenant BREAK was tied with Yveltal EX decks for the most placements with 9, it did very little with such a high number of placements. It finished with 240 less Championship Points than Night March and 105 less than Yveltal EX variants. Six of its placements were actually Top 16 finishes, with Mike Martindale finishing the highest with a 4th place finish with the deck, losing to Vespiquen/Flareon in the Top 4 of that tournament. I would predict that heading forward, until Dark sees a decline in play, Trevenant will be a solid deck to get some points out of a tournament, but not that great of a deck for actually winning a tournament, especially as players get more comfortable playing against what is for all intents and purposes a very linear deck.

TJ Traquair’s Wailord EX

Here is the list for TJ’s Wailord EX deck that he shared. This is the list that he used to take 2nd place at the Edmonton Regional Championship.

Pokemon – 9

4 Wailord EX
1 Lugia EX (AOR)
1 Aegislash EX
1 Latias EX
1 Suicune PLB
1 Bunnelby PRC

Trainers – 49

4 N
4 AZ
4 Team Flare GRunt
3 Team Rocket’s Handiwork
3 Cassius
2 Pokemon Fan Club
2 Hugh
1 Shauna
1 Xerosic
1 Lysandre

1 Dowsing Machine
4 Puzzle of Time
4 VS Seeker
4 Max Potion
4 Crushing Hammer
1 Enhanced Hammer
2 Hard Charm
1 Fighting Fury Belt

3 Rough Seas

Energy – 2

2 Double Colorless

Brazilian National Championship Results

This past weekend the Brazilian National Championship took place. Unfortunately Fates Collide wasn’t legal for the tournament, but it’s still a very important tournament because it’s one of (if not the largest) National Championships outside of the United States, giving a lot of meaning to the results of the tournament. The tournament was large enough for Day 2, Top 32 Swiss rounds, meaning the winning players and decks had to make a long climb to the top.

Here was the Top 8 headed into cut:

1. Victor A de Freitas – Night March
2. Nathalia G. Fernandes – M Manectric EX
3. Lucas V. Pedrosa – Night March
4. Dyego de C. R. Rathje – Trevenant BREAK
5. Gustavo Wada – Reshiram ROS/Giratina EX
6. Raphael Branco – Vespiquen AOR/Vileplume AOR
7. Douglas R. Teixeira – M Rayquaza EX/Jolteon EX
8. Jose Paulo S. O. Afonso – Night March

vileplume-ancient-origins-aor-3-312x441In the end, Raphael would take the win with Vespiquen/Vileplume, defeating a Night March deck in the finals.

The meta game from Brazil isn’t very surprising, it appears to be a continuation of the meta game that we saw during State Championships with lots of Night March and turn 1 Item lock variants.

This is now the second foreign National Championship that Vileplume/Vespiquen has won. Combined with its success during State Championships, this should cement Vileplume/Vespiquen’s place as one of the top decks of the Standard format headed into the Fates Collide Standard Format.

Conclusion

This will be all for this week. As this is the last weekend of Regional Championships, this should also conclude our coverage of the Expanded format until most likely next Fall as we approach Fall Regional Championships, which will most likely be the next set of tournaments using the Expanded format.

Moving forward, this weekend will mark the first set of National Championships where Fates Collide will be legal, so we will be keeping an eye out for what happens during those tournaments, as they will give us a first look into the format that we will be using for U.S. Nationals.

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