Hello SixPrizes readers! My name is Grant Hays, and I recently finished in Top 8 at the Collinsville Regional Championships with Sceptile/Vileplume, or “Sceptrow.” Today I’ll be talking about why I decided to play the deck, the list, how my tournament went, and what the deck looks like in the Expanded format moving forward.
After making Top 8 at Dallas Regionals with the list that my friend Aaron Friedman made, I took a bit of a break from the game until Collinsville. With my invite secured and a big Regional done, I enjoyed my time relaxing and grinding through schoolwork. I played some games of the format before Collinsville, but not a ton. As such, I spent a lot of time Friday night scrambling to figure out what to play. I was between three options: Doll Stall, Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX/Milotic FLF, and, of course, Sceptrow.
I didn’t feel as prepared for the event as I would’ve liked, and the idea of playing Sceptile for another tournament didn’t seem like a good one. I believed more of the field was prepared for the deck, and its matchup spread didn’t seem as good. However, after talking with my friend Jackson Paulson about my options, I decided to settle on Sceptrow for three main reasons:
- I had previous experience with the deck. Even though I didn’t think the deck was as great as it was for Dallas, I knew that my previous experience with the deck would allow me to navigate through games that I probably wouldn’t get through if I were to simply pick up something else the night before. Although it may seem like using Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX to Super Growth into whatever Vileplume you like is all that’s needed to win games, the Sceptile version involves lots of decision-making with what cards to search for with Sunshine Grace/Steven’s Resolve, where to place Energy, when to evolve different Pokémon, etc.
- The deck has a very good Doll Stall matchup. This may seem like a weird matchup to focus on, especially since Doll Stall runs multiple copies of everyone’s favorite inaccessible Stadium card (Tropical Beach). However, hearing multiple high-level players looking for copies of Tropical Beach, along with my friend Zachary Cooper telling me lots of people, himself included, settled on the deck, made me nervous that being unable to beat Dolls wouldn’t allow me to get very far. Although the 4 Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX version of the deck can have some issues with Dolls because almost every attacker in the deck needs 3 Energy to attack, the Sceptile version beats Doll Stall with ease because Sceptile can attack for 1 Energy.
- Expanded is a jungle. I played Sceptile in Dallas with the idea that if I dodged Turbo Dark, the most hyped deck in the format, I could beat almost everything else. After not hitting Turbo Dark for 15 rounds, I realized that the Expanded field is so diverse that I could realistically not play against any of the big decks in Day 1. So, I figured that playing something that could beat anything because of Item lock was better than trying to metagame hard and hope I made the correct read.
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 21
* 3 Oddish UNB 6
* 3 Gloom UNB 7
* 2 Vileplume AOR 3
* 2 Vileplume BUS 6
* 3 Treecko LOT 20
* 2 Grovyle LOT 21
* 2 Sceptile-GX LOT 22
* 2 Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX UNM 1
* 1 Mew UNB 76
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
##Trainer Cards - 31
* 4 N FCO 105
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Faba LOT 173
* 2 Steven’s Resolve CES 145
* 2 AZ PHF 91
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 1 Brigette BKT 134
* 1 Cynthia UPR 119
* 1 Brock’s Grit HIF 53
* 4 Net Ball LOT 187
* 3 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 1 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 3 Silent Lab PRC 140
* 1 Power Plant UNB 183
* 1 Life Forest p LOT 180
##Energy - 8
* 7 Grass Energy Energy 1
* 1 Super Boost Energy p UPR 136
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=79903 ******
Although Sceptile-GX was previously in the deck to deal with ZoroGarb and Mewtwo, the declining popularity of those two decks has made this Evolution line less important. Despite this, Sceptile is still an important card for dealing with an opponent’s answers to Vileplume BUS, such as Weavile-GX, Copperajah SSH, etc.
Grovyle LOT is also one of the most important cards in the deck for its Sunshine Grace Ability. Being able to search out a Grass Pokémon for no cost is insane, and sometimes it’s better to not evolve into a Sceptile straightaway to continue searching for additional Oddishes, Treeckos, and more.
The Sceptile line is also important for the first turn of the game with the new Supporter rule. It may not seem like much, but there’s a big difference between (A) opening 1 Pokémon and getting benched out and (B) benching a Treecko and staying in the game.
2 Steven’s Resolve
I originally had only 1 copy of this card in the deck for Dallas, but I opted to bump it up to 2 because of how great the card is for the mid game. Although opening with a Steven’s instead of another draw Supporter isn’t ideal, especially when going first, the card provides a ton of gas to search out pieces you may be missing or help solidify a “checkmate” scenario. It also helps with flexibility, which the Sceptile version is all about.
It’s important to note that Steven’s Resolve is not a card for turn one; it is not a card you play instead of using Super Growth. The card is purely to help with finding pieces in the mid/late game when you’ve already established Item lock.
3 Silent Lab, 1 Power Plant
I opted to drop from 4 Power Plant to only 1. Silent Lab seemed like the better Stadium overall going into Collinsville because Zacian V isn’t affected by Power Plant, and I figured that against many other decks Power Plant and Silent Lab basically accomplished the same goal. Power Plant is still important to have in the deck for Weavile-GX and Vileplume-GX though, so I opted to keep 1.
1 Mew UNB
I had heard whispers of a Mew/Cramorant deck showing up, so I opted to cut a Professor Sycamore for the Mew. A pretty bold card change, and it ended up not mattering. I played against Cramorant a total of zero times, so the Mew did nothing. However, the Mew didn’t have a negative impact on my draws at any point in the tournament, so I suppose it all worked out.
After the drive Saturday morning, I was ready for a long day of Pokémon. I joked with some friends that I had some physics homework I needed to do, so going either 0-3 drop or 9-0 were both fine outcomes. Now, to my rounds:
R1: TrevNoir … WW (1-0-0)
R2: RowEgg/Rillaboom … WT (2-0-0)
R3: Doll Stall … WW (3-0-0)
R4: Trevenant … WLW (4-0-0)
R5: RoxieChomp … LWW (5-0-0)
R6: Ultra Necrozma/Octillery … WLW (6-0-0)
R7: TrevNoir … LL (6-1-0)
R8: Doll Stall … WW (7-1-0)
R9: Turbo Dark … LL (7-2-0)
My Day 1 was relatively easy, with me taking my two loses after being basically locked into Day 2. Looking forward to Day 2, my only really troublesome matchups were the TrevNoir list that Will Jenkins had beaten me with in Round 7, and my friend Ben Cryer’s Turbo Dark list. The amount of Stall Decks I saw as being in Day 2 made me optimistic, and after submitting my physics homework due Saturday night and checking PokéStats for the full list of Day 2 decks, I went to sleep.
After checking the pairings and sitting down for Round 10, I was nervous. Something important that you may have figured out by now is that my deck is very dependent on whatever my opponent flips over, and I knew that a few bad matchups could majorly wreck my day. However, my rounds in Day 2 went pretty well:
R10: Snorlax VMAX/Zoroark-GX … WW (8-2-0)
R11: Morpeko VMAX/Dusknoir BCR … WW (9-2-0)
R12: Snorlax VMAX/Cinccino SSH … LWT (9-2-1)
R13: Doll Stall … WW (10-2-1)
R14: Turbo Dark … WLW (11-2-1)
After Round 13, I was fairly certain I could ID my last round to secure Top 8. At the same time, I was hopeful that my friend Ben Cryer who was (10-3-0) could win his last round and be in Top 8 with me. You can probably guess what happened next. (We got paired together, of course.) After some close games, the combination of Item lock and Basic block proved to be too much for Ben’s awkward draws to handle, and I advanced to 11-2-1. Although sad that I had to knock my friend out of Top 8, I was excited to secure two straight Top 8s with the same deck. I was also happy to learn that the order of seeding would mean I wouldn’t play against Will Jenkins in Top 8, as I had very little chance at beating his TrevNoir list.
T8: RowEgg/Vileplume/Exeggutor PLF … LL (11-3-1)
After seeing that I was playing the RowEgg mirror in Top 8, I knew it was going to be a long, grindy, and probably uninteresting match. My 50-minute game of the mirror in Top 8 of Dallas was not something I wanted to play through again. Some friends had told me that Kolton’s list played a Blockade Exeggutor, which I had brushed off as not being too significant. I could attack with anything in my deck, so I knew him stalling something Active wasn’t an option. I figured the Blockade was just a weird 1-1 line, and that the matchup would play out normally besides that. Boy was I wrong.
I figured out in Game 1 that Kolton’s list played a ton of disruption cards, and that in addition to using Gloom UNB’s Irresistible Aroma Ability to put Pokémon into play and Guzma to trap them Active, he played Team Flare Grunt and Bellelba & Brycen-Man to discard Energy and run the opponent out of cards. What this essentially means is that it was impossible for me to get enough Energy in play to attack, and I would inevitably deck out after being hit for 10 damage with Blockade every turn. Fun times.
After a long Game 1, I scooped and hoped for the best in Game 2. However, after seeing I prized 3 Grass Energy and my Super Boost Energy p, I drew–passed for many turns, unable to do anything because of Exeggutor’s Blockade. After Kolton showed me the Bellelba & Brycen-Man when I had 3 cards left in deck, I extended my hand and wished him good luck with winning the event. It was disappointing to hit a matchup that was way worse than I thought to end my run, especially when there were multiple Stall variants in cut, but I was satisfied with my performance overall.
Vileplume Variants Moving Forward
I wasn’t feeling too confident about my deck choice last weekend, and I hate to say that I’m even less confident about playing it now. Although nothing too surprising came out of Collinsville, the winning TrevNoir list is definitely problematic for Vileplume variants of all sorts, and the combination of Garbodor DRX and Wobbuffet PHF was too much for me to handle when I played against Will. I don’t think there are any great inclusions for Vileplume variants besides Field Blower, Sudowoodo GRI, and hoping to draw well. I was also scared of the aggressive decks. Multiple Zacian V variants in Day 2 were teched to beat RowEgg, and I did not want to play against them.
Beyond this, I think people will finally give Vileplume decks the respect they deserve, and this is a major problem for the deck’s success. As soon as your opponent decides to play a 2nd copy of Guzma or Stealthy Hood or something similar, it becomes harder to win games.
Looking Toward Charlotte
I think the Expanded meta will remain similar to what it was for Collinsville. The biggest change to the meta was Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX’s dominance this weekend, and I think we’ll see players looking to find solid answers to the deck beyond simply drawing out of the lock. TrevNoir’s low Energy count and linear style of gameplay are definitely exploitable, so we’ll likely see the deck’s strength dwindle as Charlotte and other Expanded events come and go.
The Top 8 from last weekend being made up of seven lock decks (different forms, but locking nonetheless) makes it hard to say where exactly the format is and how it will shift. I’d expect the power level of these lock decks to decrease, but the nature of each type of lock deck (RowEgg’s Item lock, TrevNoir’s hand lock, and Doll Stall’s…Prize lock?) makes it hard to say whether teching for these decks will be effective or even worth it.
If Charlotte Regionals were tomorrow, I’d probably play TrevNoir. There really isn’t a reason to play anything else in Expanded right now when it has proven to be the most oppressive deck.
That’s all for today! I’m beyond thrilled to have done so well last weekend, and I can’t wait for more events later at the season. Although I may not be in Charlotte, I’ll be at Fort Wayne Regionals . See everyone next time!
This post first appeared on Sixprizes.com - Pokemon Cards Explained By The Mas, please read the originial post: here