What is up with it everyone! I’m Russell LaParre and I’m writing to you once again on the 2016–2017 Standard format. In this piece I’ll be discussing my Orlando Regionals experience and how I feel the results from Orlando will be sculpting the future of the Standard format. Let’s get into it.
Pre-Tournament Popularity Projections
Here was my “tier list” based upon the number of players I expected to pilot each deck:
- M Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor
- M Rayquaza-EX
- Rainbow Road
- M Scizor-EX/Garbodor
- M Gardevoir-EX
- Xerneas BREAK/Giratina-EX
- Vileplume variants
To start, my flight out of Washington, D.C. was delayed an extra hour and a half and I arrived Friday in Florida around 11:30 p.m. Normally, I use the Friday night before a tournament to secure my final deck-list decisions and playtest a few matchups I feel I may not have completely figured out. Since I was arriving late, I resorted to crunching out my final card choices as I sat on the plane for three hours.
I knew for about a week or two before the event that I wanted to play Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX/Garbodor but I was torn on my 59th and 60th cards so I spent most of my time on the flight evaluating each tech and deciding which ones complemented each other to the highest degree for my anticipated field. Ryan Sabelhaus, Bradley Curcio, and Rahul Reddy (all members of the The Chaos Gym) were also discussing the idea of playing Darkrai/Giratina with me and we had similar thoughts on the techs we could add as the final cards.
Pokémon – 12
3 Darkrai-EX BKP
Trainers – 32
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Ultra Ball
2 Parallel City
Energy – 14
Open Slots: 2
3 Darkrai-EX: I found during testing that playing only 2 Darkrai-EX put me in a bind when I’m in a 50/50 matchup. Playing the extra copy for the unfortunate moments when I would prize one was ideal and proved its worth throughout the tournament. The same logic doesn’t apply to Giratina-EX as I only attack with Giratina-EX in a few matchups. More than 70% of the time it’s sitting on the Bench collecting Double Dragon Energy for Dark Pulse boosts.
2-2 Garbodor: This is fairly straightforward but I want to highlight how important it was for me to play a 2-2 line of Garbodor going into the tournament. I anticipated running into a high number of Yveltal BKT, Volcanion-EX, and Greninja decks throughout the event. Playing the 2-2 line instead of my go-to 2-1 line helped ensure I could get my Garbotoxin online when it was critical towards success in a matchup.
1 Enhanced Hammer: The single copy of Enhanced Hammer allowed me to have a momentum-swinging play with Giratina-EX during all stages of the game. I expected to use Enhanced Hammer against M Mewtwo-EX, M Rayquaza-EX, Yveltal/Mew, Rainbow Road, and the mirror. It’s a solid card to punish an opponent’s overextension of resources and becomes easy Ultra Ball fodder for matchups where it’s a dead card.
The Last Two Slots
The biggest decision with this deck was the final two tech cards I wanted to include. I was debating between seven different cards and how they would complement each other against a majority of the meta.
Escape Rope: This deck needs some sort of switch card included. If you’re attacking with Giratina-EX you’ll want a way to retreat it while keeping the Energy it has attached so your Dark Pulse progression stays intact. What else does Escape Rope do for me? Combining Escape Rope and Lysandre breaks Regice’s Resistance Blizzard and Jolteon-EX’s Flash Ray out of their respective locks that would normally give my opponent an instant win. Playing Escape Rope would allow me to forgo Pokémon Ranger and give me the ability to use my Supporter for the turn to draw into Escape Rope and play accordingly.
3rd/4th Trainers’ Mail: I’m torn on playing a heavy count of Trainers’ Mail after seeing so much success with my Waterbox list for Nationals that played Energy removal tech instead of Trainers’ Mail. This was probably my reckless decision for this tournament. I choose to play 2 copies of Trainers’ Mail in hopes that the consistency of my deck trumped the necessity to have a higher count of Trainers’ Mail so I could fit all the tech I wanted. I ran a few test draws playing the 3rd/4th Trainers’ Mail and overall wasn’t all that impressed with the progression it gave me. Had I drawn a bit more poorly I would’ve cut down to play 1 tech card and included the 3rd Trainers’ Mail.
Pokémon Center Lady: I like Pokémon Center Lady in most lists as a way to turn 2HKOs into 3HKOs. As I was testing with this list and playing against unfavorable matchups that were about 60/40 in my opponent’s favor (M Scizor-EX or M Gardevoir-EX) I noticed that I could swing momentum in games where I had a decent start if I played a copy of Pokémon Center Lady. My game plan against most of these decks turned to using my 3 Darkrai-EX to trade 2HKOs for 3HKOs while powering up a Giratina-EX on the Bench which was untouchable for their Mega Pokémon. Playing a copy of Pokémon Center Lady could support this game plan in these otherwise awful matchups.
Olympia: I considered adding Olympia as a recurring switch card and a way to heal damage in matchups where the opponent’s 2HKO is done based off perfect numbers against my 220-HP Pokémon. The problem with this is it burned my Supporter for the turn and didn’t offer the same Resistance Blizzard or Flash Ray negation that Escape Rope offers.
Delinquent: Since my build only plays 2 copies of Parallel City for Stadiums, if my opponent plays down a Parallel City on me it’s going to stick for the rest of the game barring they don’t remove it. Delinquent was considered as a way to clear their Parallel City as well as drop an opponent’s hand to 0 should they play themselves down to 3 cards or less.
. . .
Ultimately, I decided to add a copy of Escape Rope and Pokémon Center Lady to counteract potential bad matchups while also having utility across the board. Ryan, Brad, and Rahul decided on the 3rd Trainers’ Mail and Olympia meaning they took a bad matchup to Regice and Jolteon-EX for consistency.
Round 1: Steven Bates, M Rayquaza-EX/Raichu
Matchup Mindset: This should be a landslide victory for Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX/Garbodor. I’m looking to set up Giratina-EX on the Bench while keeping Darkrai-EX Active and tanking until I can get a Parallel City in my hand for when I want to Chaos Wheel. Ideally, I should be attacking with Giratina-EX turn 2 but it’s better for me to be patient and wait out the Parallel City should he draw Hex Maniac and OHKO Giratina-EX. The 1 copy of Enhanced Hammer should come into play if he rushes to toss down Double Colorless Energy once he sees Giratina-EX, so I feel confident the game will be quite easy. In this matchup I also look to put a Trubbish on the Bench with a Float Stone should I ever need to completely lock him out of the game with Garbotoxin. I don’t want to preemptively evolve into Garbodor allowing him to KO my Giratina-EX should he draw into Pokémon Ranger + Sky Field + Mega Turbo + Double Colorless, so that timing can be a little bit tricky.
Game 1: I’m dead-drawing for a while after I mulligan three times. Turn 3 I draw into a Professor Sycamore and get to a Giratina-EX with Double Dragon Energy. He takes a knockout on my Shaymin-EX and I need to draw into Parallel City and Double Dragon Energy — which I luckily do — then slowly get my deck going from there. His hand starts to fail him after a Parallel City and N then he scoops shortly after Chaos Wheel locks him down.
Game 2: I get a better start but have no draw Supporter. I’m able to make turn 2 Giratina-EX with Parallel City but he has a Mega Ray on board, a Shaymin-EX on the Bench, and 2 Raichu (one with a Double Colorless). He nets himself a Hex Maniac and Emerald Breaks for 90 then the following turn I play Pokémon Center Lady and bring the damage down to 30. We crack a good laugh over the fact that I’m playing Pokémon Center Lady and he slowly loses from this point on as neither Raichu nor M Rayquaza-EX would be able to KO Giratina-EX anytime soon.
Round 2: Andy Banales, M Scizor-EX/Garbodor
Matchup Mindset: My game plan here is to set up a Darkrai-EX and apply early pressure on their Scizor-EX with a Giratina-EX in the back row with Double Dragon Energy attached. Since most Scizor lists play 4 Crushing Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, and 2 Enhanced Hammer I have to be conservative with my attachments and make sure my Energy is only attached when they count. I’m to looking hit the numbers for a 2HKO against M Scizor-EX but only if I can still accomplish the 2HKO even after my Double Dragon Energy gets removed through Enhanced Hammer. If I can’t reach this point then I can poke it with a Dark Pulse, see if they have any Energy removal during their turn, and retreat to Hoopa-EX to absorb some hits until I draw into Pokémon Center Lady. Alongside this numbers game of trading 2HKOs for 3HKOs, I need to focus on using Lysandre against any Benched Trubbish with Float Stone and use Chaos Wheel to apply pressure on any Scizor-EX he might build up on the Bench should he realize the M Scizor-EX are never going to get to my Giratina.
Game 1: Both Andy and I open with a few mulligans and ultimately start Darkrai-EX vs Scizor-EX. His hand starts fairly slow after an N and he isn’t able to get a M Scizor-EX online until about turn 4. In the meantime, I’m applying a bit of pressure with Darkrai-EX but he is able to Enhanced Hammer my Double Dragon Energy and retreat to slow down my pace using Olympia. He draws into 3 Crushing Hammer over the course of six turns and misses two of them which is good news for me but I’m still unable to keep pressure with Darkrai-EX after he gets a M Scizor-EX online. I begin to track his resource usage and notice he has 3 Scizor-EX on the Bench and he manually retreated a damaged M Scizor-EX to attack with a Scizor-EX against my Giratina-EX. I think to myself: “New game plan … deck him out!” I grab his discard pile, count how much Energy I see and how many VS Seeker are used. He has only 1 VS Seeker left and probably 1 or 2 Energy with 4 Prizes. I Lysandre up a M Scizor-EX and pass. He draws and uses Trainers’ Mail to scope through the rest of his deck and quickly realizes I’m not going to attack him and he scoops. He went 1/4 Crushing Hammer flips total so I chalk this one up to a bit of luck and his unfortunate hands.
Game 2: Andy gets a stronger start and hits a turn 2 M Scizor-EX to my awkward hand. I miss a few Max Elixir and can’t out-pressure the Mega without starting to Chaos Wheel it. He misses two more Crushing Hammer in a row and uses Olympia to save M Scizor-EX after I’m unable to find a Fighting Fury Belt to 2HKO the Mega. Scizor-EX then comes Active and pops Giratina-EX for 110. I decide to take a less aggressive route as I’m missing Max Elixir and opt to retreat and Dark Pulse for pitiful output. He makes another Mega and starts pressuring my Darkrai-EX and hits a Crushing Hammer to all but shut me out of the game. I have the deck-out option in play and ultimately go for it after thinking about how many VS Seeker and Lysandre he’ll need to close out the game. This is where I made my critical mistake. I knew the game was out of my hands; I knew the only out I had was to deck out and while he needed a lot of switching cards and VS Seeker to pry his way out of the deck-out, it’s still not an optimal win condition for me. I think my final path of thinking was: “This matchup is awful. A tie is perfectly acceptable if this deck out doesn’t work.” The deck-out doesn’t work and he hits 2 VS Seeker for Olympia during the final turns to take the win.
Game 3: We start the game and after about two turns, time is called and neither of us can take all 6 Prizes. He’s upset about having to tie which is completely understandable. He went 2/7 Crushing Hammer flips in our games and it’s quite a positive matchup for him. I wish him luck for his next round and apologize for his bad coin flips then head out for lunch.
Round 3: George Pollock, M Mewtwo-EX
Matchup Mindset: This matchup should be favored for Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX/Garbodor if the M Mewtwo-EX deck doesn’t play Hex Maniac and Garbodor. I’m looking to use Darkrai-EX to damage M Mewtwo-EX and OHKO any Benched Trubbish with Tools until I get a vibe for whether or not my opponent plays Hex Maniac. If I don’t see any during Game 1 then I’m safe to start using Chaos Wheel ASAP to regulate their Garbodor and Double Colorless Energy. It’s ideal to Fighting Fury Belt your Giratina-EX as you need to be able to 2HKO their M Mewtwo-EX to cut off your opponent from getting any advantage from a Pokémon Ranger into Garbodor + Tool + Double Colorless Energy + Mega Turbo turn from happening. It’s asking for a lot from them but it’s certainly plausible.
Game 1: We play a fairly downtempo game with me finally sticking a solid lock with Chaos Wheel and I’m able to follow up with Darkrai-EX to Dark Pulse my final knockouts on his Shaymin-EX and Benched Mewtwo-EX. He never really got much going but we played at a semi-slow pace so I’m hoping we can finish without tieing.
Game 2: I start decently and am able to take control of the game state with Chaos Wheel until he makes a M Mewtwo-EX then plays Mega Turbo + Hex Maniac to take out Giratina-EX. He then proceeds to run through my attackers and snowballs the game in his favor. I realize this a bit late after attempting to mount a comeback, but I should’ve just scooped.
Game 3: George gets a fairly dead hand and I’m able to take quick control with Dark Pulse and Chaos Wheel. He draws into a Professor Sycamore and is able to bench a few Pokémon-EX in hopes of coming to a tie and I start rushing to attach then draw into a Lysandre to finish the game. Time is finally called and I’m at 6 Prizes with Dark Pulse hitting for around 180. We came to a point where I needed one more turn and I’d be able to walk away with a win.
Lesson Learned: Scoop against M Mewtwo once the game feels outside my control. No point in wasting time, especially when the first game finished quickly.
Round 4: Chad Truong, M Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor
Same game plan as the previous M Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor matchup. I’m going to play this matchup quite a number of times so please reference the game plan from Round 3 whenever needed.
Game 1: I open strong to his Trubbish and Hoopa-EX for 2 Mewtwo-EX and Shaymin-EX. Shaymin-EX nets him nothing and he has a pretty dead hand until he finally draws into an N on turn 3. By the time he hits the N, I have 3 Dark Energy and Double Dragon Energy on board with a Parallel City clearing my set-up Pokémon. The N doesn’t get much started for him besides being able to Mega Evolve so he scoops shortly after Chaos Wheel starts coming into effect.
While we’re shuffling up for Game 2, Chad mentions he used to play Pokémon TCG back in the day and decided to start up again. He actually used to read SixPrizes a while back and was happy to find it here still to help him make his deck decision for Orlando. If you’re ready this Chad, “Whats up!?!”
Game 2: Similar to Game 1, Chad opens with a very mediocre hand and I’m able to get a turn 2 Chaos Wheel going and slowly grind out a win since he’s never able to deal with the pressure of 5 Dark Energy and 3 Double Dragon Energy on board.
Round 5: Robert Midkiff, Xerneas BREAK/Giratina-EX
Matchup Mindset: Xerneas BREAK/Giratina-EX is quite possibly the worst matchup I could play against in the entire tournament. Since Xerneas hits Giratina-EX for Weakness, I’ll need to be conservative about placing it on the Bench and hope that I can replace his Fairy Garden with Parallel City, use Lysandre to bring up one of their Giratina with a Double Dragon Energy and 2HKO it. This way they can no longer OHKO Darkrai-EX and I can stand somewhat of a chance in trading attacks.
Game 1: Robert starts with a ridiculous opening hitting Giratina-EX, Double Dragon Energy, Fairy Garden, Repeat Ball, and Max Elixir on his Benched Xerneas then free retreats and uses Geomancy. I get a decent start but opened Giratina-EX so I’m forced to retreat it back with Float Stone and put a Darkrai-EX Active with a Dark Energy. He plays Professor Sycamore after attaching second Double Dragon Energy and discards 2 Fairy Garden in the process. Three more turns go by where he has complete control of the game state and is using Life Stream for 180. I look at his discard pile with 2 Fairy Garden, 3 Fairy Energy, and 1 Fairy Garden on the field then decide I should go for a deck-out against his Giratina-EX. I play Parallel City, bringing his Bench down to three, and he’s forced to discard either a Giratina-EX with 2 Double Dragon Energy, Giratina-EX with 1 Double Dragon Energy, or a Xerneas BREAK. He opts to pitch a Giratina-EX and I use Lysandre to bring the other Active and hit it with an Enhanced Hammer then pass. He passes for two turns after drawing and realizes there’s no solid way for him to retreat as all his Energy is on board and when he finally does I can just use a Lysandre to bring it back Active and end the game. He scoops shortly thereafter.
Game 2: Robert gets a similar setup to Game 1 but this time I’m unable to mount an actual comeback with a deck-out. I stall for a bit with Darkrai-EX and Giratina-EX and manage to KO a few Xerneas but once he gets a Giratina-EX down with 2 Double Dragon Energy I lose.
Game 3: I start for Game 3 and get a strong start with 3 Max Elixir. Then time gets called as I pass my turn and neither of us can take 6 Prizes for the win. Robert and I discuss the concept of the tie and we both know we can make Day 2 if we win out so I wish him good luck and hope I can mount a comeback from here.
Round 6: Joshua Frink, Volcanion/Volcanion-EX
Matchup Mindset: Volcanion-EX is a matchup decided entirely upon how quickly you set up Garbodor vs how early can your opponent can OHKO Darkrai-EX. If their version plays Max Elixir (which after a few more rounds of testing proved to be best build of Volcanion) then you might be in for a rough time but I still think the matchup is 50/50 because of Parallel City. In this matchup I’m looking to use a Darkrai-EX to trade attacks with Volcanion while I establish a Garbodor and Giratina-EX on the Bench. Since Volcanion can put out such absurd turn 1 damage I ideally want to leave them a Darkrai-EX or Giratina-EX with a Float Stone Active while I build up attackers on the Bench. They’ll probably burn a few Steam Ups to bring your Active Pokémon-EX within 2HKO range but this is great for your game plan as you’ll want to retreat it the following turn, make your Garbodor, and throw down Parallel City — discarding your set-up Pokémon-EX and the one that absorbed damage. This is asking for a lot of cards but this is the ideal scenario you want to put yourself in anytime between turns 2–4. Since they’ll deal 20 less damage from Parallel City, Volcanion essentially becomes an attacking Energy attachment. Once they start damaging your Darkrai-EX, you should retreat to a Giratina-EX, use Lysandre on a Benched Volcanion-EX without Float Stone and 1 or less Energy, then Chaos Wheel them. This puts them in a situation where they need to hit a switch card or they lose 2 Prizes for free all while protecting your Garbodor from danger.
Game 1: Joshua gets a strong start and I’m drawing somewhat dead. I try to slowly grind back in the game with Lysandre, Giratina-EX, and Garbodor but I’m far behind so once he hits a switch card and Lysandre on my Shaymin-EX I lose.
Game 2: I get a better start with Darkrai-EX, Garbodor, and Giratina-EX with Double Dragon Energy and I’m able to start controlling the game state. He’s able to KO my Darkrai-EX and I’m drawing a bunch of Energy off his previous turn’s N so it takes a while before I’m able to Chaos Wheel my way to victory.
Game 3: We start the game and try to speed rush into it so we don’t tie. Time gets called when I’m at 5 Prizes to his 6 and he decides to be a great guy and give me the win. The dream is still alive!
This article — “Monster from the Black Lagoon” – Top 32 Orlando Regionals Report with Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor, the Updated Standard Tier List, and Future Techs — was originally published on SixPrizes.
This post first appeared on Sixprizes.com - Pokemon Cards Explained By The Mas, please read the originial post: here