Weekend Report #9 – Crespo’s Philly Tree Steak

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Back towards the beginning of October I wrote an article about the future of the Expanded Format and included a four card ban list for the Expanded format which I thought would make for a better, healthier Expanded format.

Topping the ban list was Trevenant XY as the Trevenant BREAK deck creates one of the least fun tournament experiences in Pokemon. The deck attempts to Item lock an opponent before they’ve even gotten to play a turn in the game and then it uses spread attacks to wash away the opponent’s field while at the same time using Energy removal and other disruption cards to negatively impact the opponent’s board setup or hand.

What makes Trevenant so toxic to the tournament system is not only that it is not fun for most decks to play against, but actually just the fact that it is really good. No one would be finding any issue with all of Trevenant’s “unfair” tricks if it wasn’t winning with them all the time.

While it may not have won all of the Regional Championships in the Black and White through Steam Siege format, it did manage to become a finalist in both of the Expanded tournaments played in this format. At the Arizona Regional Championship, William Herrmann finished 2nd place with his Trevenant BREAK deck and just this past weekend Jonathan Crespo became the Philadelphia Regional Champion while also using Trevenant BREAK.

In this edition of Weekend Report, I go over the action from the two Regional Championships from this past weekend. First, we go to Philadelphia for the Expanded format Regional and then we move across the Atlantic to Liverpool to look in on a Standard format Regional Championship, which was also Europe’s first Regional Championship of the season.

Crespo Wins Philly with Trees

trevenant-break-breakpoint-bkp-66-312x441The Philadelphia Regional Championship was the largest Masters Division Pokemon tournament in the history of the Pokemon TCG with 646 Masters Division players (edging out Florida’s record setting 641 from October). When it was all said and done, the last man standing in the room was Jonathan Crespo using his Trevenant BREAK deck.

Headed into the weekend, Trevenant was actually running very low in the hype department. The popular opinion towards the deck was that it would become a weaker play as a result of both Greninja and Karen acting as Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon deterrents. Those decks were among Trevenant’s best matchups, so the thought was if they become worse leading to them seeing less play then Trevenant would become worse too.

All of these predictions were way off. Night March wasn’t as successful at Philadelphia as it was at Arizona, but it still managed to take 3 spots of the Top 32 in Philly. Vespiquen/Flareon took a single spot in the Top 32 of Philly, matching its one from Arizona. Not only did these decks not disappear, they still seemed to be getting played in similar numbers to what they were in Arizona.

trevenant-xy-55Trevenant BREAK also of course did very well. In addition to Crespo, who finished first, other Day 2 finishers with Trevenant BREAK included Bob Zhang (9th place), Blake Crenshaw (12th place), Aaron Tarbell (15th place), and Jay Young (18th place). Trevenant’s big weekend in Philly was enough to make Trevenant the most successful Expanded deck in the BLW-STS format with Trevenant taking 7 total placements for 544 Championship Points and 15.53% of the total Championship Points available from Top 32 finishes.

It actually shouldn’t be too surprising that Trevenant has found so much success as of late. While Night March and Vespiquen decks are certainly amazing matchups, most of the rest of the decks in the Expanded format are good matchups for Trevenant because of their over reliance on Items as part of their deck engine.

Additionally, the amount of Dark decks in the format is lower than it’s been in a long time. Between Arizona and Philadelphia, 14/64 Day 2 decks were Dark variants (not including Sableye/Garbodor), for 21.9% of the total Day 2 decks. While approximately 20% of the meta game is a large amount for a single Energy type, this is still a reduction from the 30%+ that Dark archetypes were hitting in the Winter and Spring Regional Championships where Trevenant still managed to find success.

The Trevenant BREAK deck’s entire existence in Expanded has been accompanied by Dark archetypes being the most popular decks in the format, and even with all those Dark decks Trevenant has been able to found success which helps show how strong of an archetype Trevenant BREAK is.

In fact, while Dark is a poor matchup, it isn’t unbeatable for Trevenant BREAK. We saw this in the Top 8 when Jonathan Crespo defeated Tom Filbey and his Yveltal EX/Maxie’s deck, pulling off the matchup upset to move onto Top 4. In Top 4 he would defeat Noel Totomoch and his Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF deck before going on to defeat Mike Fouchet and his Accelgor DEX/Wobbuffet deck in the finals.

Here is the list that Crespo used to win Philadelphia Regionals:

Pokemon – 15

4 Phantump BPT
4 Trevenant XY
3 Trevenant BREAK
2 Shaymin EX
2 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
1 N
2 Wally
1 Team Flare Grunt
1 Lysandre
1 Xerosic

1 Computer Search
4 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Red Card
4 Crushing Hammer
1 Enhanced Hammer
1 Super Rod
2 Rescue Scarf

3 Dimension Valley
1 Silent Lab

Energy – 8

8 Psychic

While the list is fairly similar to many other Trevenant/Hammer lists (there’s only so far you can depart from the standard build), there are some really nice unique touches to his list.

jirachi-ex-plasma-blast-plb-60The first thing is that there are 2 Jirachi EX. This is helpful as it gives you another Jirachi EX to use for the turn 1 Wally in cases where you prize a Jirachi EX or start it. The turn 1 Item Lock is so big for the deck that anything that can be used to make it more consistent should make the deck better. He also played only Basic Psychic Energy. This is smart for this style of Trevenant BREAK as you never really need to retreat a Trevenant, and you can’t attach a Mystery Energy to retreat Jirachi EX or Shaymin EX to retreat those anyhow, making playing only Basic Psychic Energy much better than playing a split of the two Energy.

rescue-scarf-dragons-exalted-drx-115-ptcgo-1The biggest new addition is that of Rescue Scarf. In having played against Trevenant many times at this point, one thing I’ve noticed is that the deck can run out of resources if you do small things throughout a game to disrupt them while taking timely knockouts. Rescue Scarf helps prevent these situations from manifesting by allowing you to pick up a Trevenant BREAK line after it was knocked out, playing it back down onto your field right away, allowing you to use your Super Rod for Energy cards, making sure you don’t run out of those to finish out a game.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Trevenant BREAK. There is a new Giratina promo card coming out that appears to be meant to counter both Trevenant BREAK and Greninja BREAK decks. The Ability on the new Giratina card takes away the Abilities of BREAK Pokemon and their pre-evolutions as long as Giratina is in play. One of the strongest aspects of Trevenant BREAK decks is the combination of Trevenant XY’s Item Lock alongside Trevenant BREAK’s high HP and spread attack. Giratina forces Trevenant decks to give up either the Item Lock or the HP/Spread attack that come from BREAK evolving.

giratina-promoGiratina can be countered by using Silent Lab, but when Silent Lab is in play, Dimension Valley is not, which means Trevenant’s attacks will all cost one more, which will hurt the deck in another way. The Item lock would also be able to be shutoff by a player placing down a counter Stadium as well. So realistically, Giratina should give many decks a much better Trevenant matchup than they previously had. The product is set to be released in December as part of a 3-pack blister.

However, Giratina only matters if people actually go ahead and put it in their decks. If no one actually puts Giratina in their decks, it will have no impact on Trevenant’s success, despite it existing. It’s going to be hard to predict how many decks Giratina will end up in, as replacing something in an existing list for this card could be costly towards some other matchups, so players may opt to not include this card in their decks.

In fact, the 2nd place deck from this weekend is a good example of a deck that has some simple counters, but which was able to do well because a lack of those counters actually being in players’ decks.

Counter Cards: Karen and Accelgor

One of the things that I like most about the Expanded format is that we have so many tools at our disposal making it so that most decks have some way to counter almost every other deck in the format, it’s just a matter of choosing the right counter cards to play in your deck for a given weekend to counter the decks you expect other players to play.

karen-xy-promos-xy177One of the most played counter cards for the weekend was Karen. Karen has been one of the most hyped cards for Expanded since Japanese scans were first leaked online, and Philadelphia marked the first tournament it was legal at the same time that Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon were also legal. It appeared to see a fair a bit of play. I would estimate that 10-15% of the players at Philadelphia played a copy of Karen in their deck. I think I personally played against 2 decks with it in the 7 rounds of the tournament I played in.

With Karen being played in such low numbers it appears to have had little impact on the viability of the Battle Compressor decks. Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon combined for 4 spots in the Top 32. This is down from the 7 spots those decks (well mostly Night March) took at Arizona, but it makes sense that Night March in particular would see less play at Philadelphia after it failed to make Top 8 at Arizona despite being the most represented deck in that Top 32. Once again, Night March failed to crack the Top 8 at Philadelphia.

I think we are at a point in Expanded where we will probably see Karen come out of decks. Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon are clearly good decks, but neither is a great deck at the moment. Night March took 8.90% of the Top 32 Championship Points and Vespiquen/Flareon took 2.05% of them. I can’t see people continuing to tech Karen into their decks to counter a pair of decks that make up approximately 10% of the meta game. Most decks are already reasonably competitive with Night March that they probably don’t want to worry about using one of their 60 card slots to hard counter the deck.

The concept of people not playing counter cards certainly had to have helped Mike Fouchet be able to take 2nd place in the tournament with Accelgor DEX/Wobbuffet PHF. Here is the list he used at Philadelphia.

Pokemon – 20

4 Shelmet PLB
4 Accelgor DEX
4 Wobbuffet PHF
2 Munna BCR
2 Musharna NXD
2 Mew EX
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore
2 N
2 Colress
1 Ghetsis
1 Teammates
2 Lysandre
1 AZ

1 Computer Search
3 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
4 VS Seeker
1 Super Rod
4 Float Stone
1 Muscle Band
1 Silver Bangle

4 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 5

4 Double Colorless
1 Mystery

This is the type of deck that could easily be hated out of the meta game, but it appears that players didn’t consider it enough of a threat to start countering at Philadelphia Regionals.

accelgor-dark-explorers-dex-11There are a set of soft counters and hard counters to the card. The primary soft counter to the card is AZ. While AZ is solid against the deck, it can often not be enough as AZ forces a player to discard all their Energy attached to what they presumably just attacked with, which could be too costly to do enough times to win the game.

There are a lot of hard counters though. The hardest universal counter is probably Pokemon Center Lady, which heals 60 damage and heals all Special Conditions. Olympia is a medium counter. Other hard counters are cards like Magearna EX, Virizion EX, and Espeon DEX which will prevent your Pokemon from ever becoming Poisoned or Paralyzed.

After a 2nd place finish, I think we’re probably at the point in time where 1.) More people attempt to copy cat the deck and 2.) More people start playing counter cards to this deck. However, I don’t think the counter cards will be played in San Jose at high enough numbers that an Accelgor player couldn’t do well. I thought more people would try to actively counter Accelgor at Philadelphia and was wrong, so I’m not expecting them to actively counter it in San Jose either.

The Rest of the Top 8

Here is the rest of the Top 8 placements from Philadelphia Regional Championships.

1. Jonathan Crespo – Trevenant BREAK
2. Mike Fouchet – Accelgor DEX/Wobbuffet PHF
3. Sam Chen – Eelektrik NVI/Raikou BKT
4. Noel Totomoch – Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF
5. Tom Filbey – Yveltal EX/Maxie’s
6. Joshua Sergenton – Turbo Darkrai EX
7. Chris Siakala – Darkrai EX/Giratina EX
8. Benjamin Sauk – Yveltal EX

Sam Chen had gone undefeated up until his Top 4 match against Mike Fouchet. With Sam’s popularity and Raikou/Eels making back to back Top 8’s at Regional Championships, I would expect this deck to see a ton more play at San Jose. Likewise, Seismitoad EX/Crobat made Top 4 at back to back Regional Championships and may start seeing more play as a result too.

Dark made up half of the Top 8 cut, but all four Dark variants were eliminated in the first round of top cut. Turbo Darkrai EX has returned for a Top 8 finish at the hands of Joshua Sergenton, and Darkrai EX/Giratina EX is beginning to gain a foothold in Expanded. It had made Day 2 at Arizona and now it has a Top 8 finish and a Top 16 finish to add to its resume.

Joshua Sergenton’s Turbo Darkrai EX

Here is the list that Joshua used to finish 6th place at Philadelphia Regionals.

Pokemon – 11

3 Darkrai EX BPT
1 Darkrai EX DEX
1 Malamar EX
1 Mewtwo EX
1 Yveltal XY
1 Keldeo EX
1 Hoopa EX
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 38

3 Professor Sycamore
2 N
1 Colress
2 Lysandre
1 AZ
1 Hex Maniac
1 Pokemon Ranger

4 Ultra Ball
4 Max Elixir
4 Dark Patch
4 VS Seeker
2 Trainers’ Mail
2 Battle Compressor
1 Super Rod
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Parallel City

Energy – 11

11 Darkness

The most notable thing about this list is that Darkrai EX split. A lot of the Spring Regional lists we saw for this deck opted to go for a 2/2 split of the Darkrai EX’s, but this list goes for the 3/1 split which gives you better access to your power hitter than the 2/2 split does.

Quick Hits on Philly

  • After being the most dominant deck in Arizona, taking 3/8 cut spots and eventually winning the tournament, Greninja BREAK failed to qualify for Day 2 in Philadelphia. Greninja’s struggles can likely be attributed to large amounts of Archeops play and Garbodor popping up in more and more decks.
  • Prior to the event I noticed that Ho-Oh EX was mostly sold out online. This meant either Rainbow Road would have low play as card access was too low, or it would have high amounts of play, with Ho-Oh now being sold out because of people getting ready to play Rainbow Road. The latter appeared to be the case, as Rainbow Road was a common sight throughout the tables at Philly. While the deck has been populated Expanded tournaments fairly heavily, it’s worth noting the deck has yet to make a Top 8.
  • Rogue Decks: Alex Fields used a Seismitoad EX/Garbodor variant to finish in the Top 32 of the tournament. He was the 2nd overall seed headed into Day 2, posting a 7-0-2 Day 1 record, but had a poor second day. Nathian Beck used a M Mewtwo EX/Landorus EX deck to make Top 32 at the tournament.

Tournament Report: Falling off Rainbow Road

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Following the Arizona Regional Championship, where I played Vespiquen/Flareon, I decided it was time for a change in the deck I played for Philadelphia. In the three Regional Championships I played the deck I finished Top 16, Top 32, and then just outside of the Top 64 in Arizona. Not only did I not get the big finishes I was looking for, but my results were also getting worse with each tournament.

The release of Karen also posed a threat to Vespiquen/Flareon. The deck was much less able to deal with an opponent’s Karen than Night March decks were. I actually played against multiple decks in Philadelphia that did play Karen.

The deck I decided to go with was Rainbow Road. I am a big fan of decks that pose a constant OHKO threat, and Xerneas’ Rainbow Force attack is always a threat for big damage. As the Expanded variant typically plays Ho-Oh EX and wants a host of different typed Pokemon on the bench, the deck has a lot of options to strengthen itself against other archetypes through tech selections in those colored deck slots. This was something that appealed to me about the deck.

Here is the list that I played for the tournament:

Pokemon – 14

4 Xerneas BKT
2 Ho-Oh EX
1 Jolteon EX
1 Darkrai EX DEX
1 Keldeo EX
1 Hoopa EX
1 Jirachi EX
2 Shaymin EX ROS
2 Shaymin EX XY148

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Juniper
2 Colress
1 N
2 Lysandre
1 Hex Maniac
1 Pokemon Ranger
1 AZ

4 Ultra Ball
3 Battle Compressor
4 VS Seeker
4 Energy Switch
1 Super Rod
1 Scramble Switch
2 Float Stone

4 Sky Field

Energy – 11

4 Double Colorless
3 Fairy
2 Lightning
2 Darkness

xerneas-breakthrough-bkt-107When building my Rainbow Road list I wanted to focus the deck on being able to consistently have the tools needed to power up Rainbow Force attacks. I believe that Rainbow Force is by far a better attack than anything else in the deck and being able to power this up as consistently as possible was a priority for me. For this reason, I chose to play 4 Energy Switch so I would easily draw into them when I needed to switch an Energy off of my Ho-Oh EX’s after Rebirth’s.

Additionally, I played Scramble Switch for my Ace Spec as another option to power up a Pokemon in one turn, in particular off of a Rebirth, but also to setup Pokemon off of stray Energy attachments early in a game. Scramble Switch was a very strong card in almost every game I played and would 100% play it again if I played this deck in another tournament.

scramble-switch-plasma-storm-pls-129I chose not to play Ninja Boy in the deck as I felt the card doesn’t do enough to progress a game state in your favor and is ultimately unneeded as you already have Energy Switch and Scramble Switch available to power up Xerneas in one turn. I think in Expanded for a deck like this you need to be making the most out of your Supporter cards for the turn, which typically will mean using a card like Colress or Professor Juniper to gain more resources, N to disrupt the opponent, or Lysandre to take a more favorable knockout.

Jolteon EX was the primary tech attacker I had in the deck. I liked Jolteon EX in the deck for a few reasons. First, it has free retreat which makes it a good starter as you can easily retreat into a Xerneas to start the game if you start Jolteon EX. Second, some decks don’t play a counter to Jolteon EX allowing it to give you an enormous matchup advantage. Lastly, Jolteon EX can OHKO a Shaymin EX for [L][C][C], which means you can Energy Switch off a Lightning Energy from a Ho-Oh EX (after already moving a Fairy off the same Ho-Oh EX), allowing you to more effectively use a single Ho-Oh EX in setting up multiple attackers.

shaymin-ex-xy-promos-xy148-312x441One of the big things that I did with my list is build the deck to beat Item Lock. To beat decks like Trevenant BREAK, Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF, and Vileplume Toolbox, I included two copies of the promo Shaymin EX. Its Aroma of Gratitude Ability allows you to heal 20 damage from each of your Benched Basic Pokemon. These decks have damage output that is simply too low to really ever take a knockout against a deck with two of the promo Shaymin EX in play, along with Keldeo EX to shuffle between Pokemon. This gives you all the time in the world to power up attackers, and if they over extend early you can simply heal away until they deck out.

The way to make the most of Aroma of Gratitude is by constantly using Rush In to shuffle between Pokemon, never letting the damage build up. Ideally you slap a Float Stone on Keldeo EX before the Item Lock goes up, but if you don’t, cards like Hex Maniac, Pokemon Ranger, and Lysandre give you outs to break the various forms of Item lock. Additionally, this is one of the reasons I chose to include Darkrai EX and Darkness Energy into the deck. In games where I got locked out early by these decks I could get Darkrai EX in play, find a Darkness Energy and retreat Keldeo EX with that.

I chose not to play Fighting Fury Belts in the deck as I felt that even with them, most of your deck is still very easy for other decks to take OHKO’s against.

Outside of the Shaymin EX heal strategy and Scramble Switch, there isn’t anything else too out of line with standard Rainbow Road builds. The deck still functions the same basic way as every other Rainbow Road variant.

Below is a list of my matchups and how they played out at Philly Regionals. I’m not 100% sure on the names of all of my opponents and can’t look them up because the tournament used their own online pairing system separate from the usual one, and I’m not exactly sure how to get back into it.

Tournament Matchups:

Round 1 – M Manectric EX/Garbodor – WW (1-0-0)
Round 2 – Night March – LW (1-0-1) [Peter Kica]
Round 3 – Rainbow Road – WW (2-0-1)
Round 4 – Rainbow Road – LW (2-0-2)
Round 5 – M Manectric EX/Mewtwo EX/Garbodor – WL (2-0-3) [Roberto Lozada]
Round 6 – M Rayquaza EX – LW (2-0-4)
Round 7 – Raikou/Eelektrik/Gallade – LL (2-1-4) – Drop

Tournament Highlights:

  • joltik-phantom-forces-phf-26-312x441I tried to hedge a bet against Night March seeing significant play and chose not to include Karen in my list as I think it’s mostly a bad card. This put me in some trouble quickly as I got paired against Peter, who I figured was probably playing Night March. The matchup seems slanted in Night March’s favor without Karen, but can be won through Jolteon EX buying you some turns until they can knock it out with Gallade or a Pokemon Ranger, through Xerneas trading as a non-EX, and Darkrai EX taking multiple prizes in a single turn. In the first game I noticed that I could potentially win the game if I could power up Darkrai EX and take a double KO on Jirachi EX and Joltik with Night Spear, but I couldn’t draw Darkrai EX out of the prizes and was too far behind to win without it. Second game, because of N and consistent knockouts he wasn’t able to Lysandre my EX’s to end the game quickly allowing me to setup the three prize Night Spear turn for a win. Peter ended up making it into Day 2.
  • Had a good opportunity to go up to 3-0-1 in the tournament in the Rainbow Road mirror match, but managed to blow a big lead in game 1 in Golden State Warriors fashion by flipping tails on Rebirth across like five turns. Assuming Game 2 goes similarly, it could have been a potential 2-0 win, allowing me to go up to 3-0-1 overall in the day. Can’t really complain too much about flips though. While I got burned on flips in that individual game, I flipped fairly well on flips throughout the day. (Thanks Jason K’s Silver Fennekin Coin Replica).
  • m-manectric-ex-phantom-forces-phf-24-312x441My match against Roberto was a very good set of games and became a difficult matchup to navigate as he consistently got Garbodor into play, which meant I’d have to figure out how to win without Abilities most of the game. I may have been able to win the series 2-0, but I think I might have misplayed to lose the second game, but I’m not sure, because I can’t remember the exact game state or my hands at the time. How the second game ended was Roberto used Lysandre on my Hoopa EX to knock it out with Mewtwo EX’s Psydrive. Where the potential misplay comes in is if I could have hit the needed damage for a knockout with Rainbow Force without benching Hoopa EX. I had avoided playing down any 110 HP or lower guys that turn to avoid the Turbo Bolt knockout for game, but had missed the Mewtwo EX KO threat against my Hoopa EX. I’m not sure on my hand so I’m not 100% sure, but I think I made a misplay in that game that kept my tournament from staying on track. Roberto ended up making Day 2 at the tournament, winning out after our match and then finishing in the Top 16.
  • My deck drew fairly poorly against M Rayquaza EX, which on paper is an easy matchup, but became tough. This was mostly attributed to starting or prizing Hoopa EX in games, which made it difficult to draw into Pokemon to fill my bench to actually take damage knockouts. There’s a good chance I would lose the third game if it had fully played out, but I chose to take the tie, even though it knocked us both out of Day 2 because I had made a money and time investment to go to the tournament so I should be able to play for lesser prizes if I want to. I also scooped the first game a few turns in when it was clear the game was going poorly for me, so I also felt I had done my part in allowing there to be enough time for all games to complete. Once time was called, I had no way to win in the remaining turns, but could have won with a pair of knockouts paired with N, and then a third KO if my opponent couldn’t power up a third attacker against my N’s, or draw a Lysandre to take an EX knockout. However, since I couldn’t win in the turns of time and my opponent already had a full bench, I chose to N and do nothing, as taking a knockout would have opened up a bench spot for my opponent to play down a Shaymin EX, making it more probable they could Lysandre for game. He didn’t draw the Lysandre off the N, so the game ended in a tie.
  • The last round against Raikou was ugly. That deck is consistent and without Fighting Fury Belt, it was very easy for Raikou to OHKO my Xerneas. With my deck also being more dependent on EX’s, giving him easy prizes to snipe away at as well. After taking a convincing loss here, I dropped from the tournament, as I no longer was in contention for prizes and the tournament was running very slowly and I wanted to get as much time as I could hanging out with friends for the rest of the weekend.

The tournament didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I’m not too upset with my deck after the tournament after reflecting on it. Most of my matches were very competitive and ties could have been flipped into wins with a little bit better play or a little better luck.

I was a little bit saddened that I never got to use the Shaymin EX healing strategy I plotted out in the tournament, never having been paired against one of the Item lock decks in my Swiss rounds. It would have been needed for a deep tournament run, however, so I feel justified for including it. Unfortunately the best healing I did was wiping away a turn 1 Overrun against one of the M Manectric EX decks.

jolteon-ex-generations-28-312x441I’m also hesitant to use Jolteon EX as an attacker in a non-lock deck moving forward. From a general strategy point of view, it was effective. However, it usually takes 2-3HKO’s, which adds multiple turns onto a game. Taking these extra turns to take knockouts (compared to something like Rainbow Force) means your opponent also gets extra turns, and combined together that adds a lot of time onto the game clock, which makes ties more probable.

I’m not sure if I will hop back on the Rainbow Road wagon again or not. The next Expanded Regional I will play in is St. Louis I think, which is months away so the format may be completely shaken up from Sun and Moon, and there aren’t any League Cups scheduled, so there’s no smaller stakes tournaments that I may play at in sight. One thing I really disliked about the deck is having to flip for my Energy acceleration. If I were to play it again in Expanded, I might mess around with Max Elixir. My Round 4 opponent played Max Elixir as his Energy acceleration and it seemed fine, and the Standard version runs on that engine as well.

The one thing that gives me caution about this deck moving forward is that the deck was very popular at both Arizona and Philadelphia Regionals based on simple scans of what was being played at tables throughout the day, but the deck hasn’t put up the results you would expect from a deck being played in such high numbers.

Liverpool Regional Championship Results

Over the weekend there was also another Regional Championship being held in Liverpool. This was the first Regional Championship played in Europe this season and it was playing in the Standard format. There were 265 Masters division players in attendance.

When the tournament was all said and done, here were the Top 8 results (via Benjamin Pham)

1. Cedric G. (FR) – M Rayquaza EX
2. Karl Blake (UK) – M Gardevoir EX (STS)
3. Jindrich N. (CZ) – M Gardevoir EX/Xerneas
4. Robin S. (DE) – Giratina EX/Garbodor
5. Andrew E. (UK) – Gyarados AOR
6. Luke K. (UK) – M Scizor EX
7. Alex D. (UK) – M Scizor EX
8. Mehdi H. (FR) – Rainbow Road

m-rayquaza-ex-roaring-skies-ros-105-312x441With the results of this tournament, we have actually gone full circle in the Standard meta. When we started out in the PRC-on format, M Rayquaza EX was decided to be the the expected best deck out of the gates. This deck, however, was quickly countered by decks like M Mewtwo EX/Garbodor and Darkrai EX/Giratina EX, which played Parallel City alongside some type of locking element. Along came M Gardevoir EX (STS) hitting both of these decks for weakness and stepping up as one of the best decks in the format. One of the decks that M Gardvoir EX (STS) struggles with is M Rayquaza EX, so we have now gone around the meta game circle back to the point where M Rayquaza EX is a competitive deck.

In reality, the meta game doesn’t actually follow a circle though. In the early stages of the format, people weren’t sure on the competitiveness of M Gardevoir EX. At this stage in the development of the Standard meta game people aren’t going to forget that M Gardevoir is a good deck, so how the format moves on with M Rayquaza EX being competitive will be different from how the format moved the first time around. We will see where the format moves at Fort Wayne.

If you want to see a lot of the deck lists from the Top 8 competitors from this tournament, you can check them out on Mudkip Shore here.

Conclusion

The meta at the Philadelphia Regional Championship was a big departure from the one that we saw in Phoenix to kick off the season. While Phoenix had a very diverse meta game that Greninja BREAK decks were able to exploit for dominant performances, Philadelphia ended up with a still diverse, but much more focused format. The Day 2 meta game in Philadelphia was largely composed of Expanded mainstays like Yveltal EX, Night March, and Trevenant BREAK. In the Top 32, there were 7 Yveltal EX decks, 3 Night March decks, and 5 Trevenant BREAK decks, making these three Expanded mainstays compose roughly half of the Day 2 meta game.

Next up on the competitive schedule is Fort Wayne on Thanksgiving Day weekend, which will be played in the Primal Clash to Evolutions Standard format. The next Expanded Regional will be in San Jose in mid December.

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