Hey readers, Azul here again. Anaheim Regionals has just passed, but Saint Louis Regionals is right around the corner. It will be the first expanded Regionals with Sun and Moon legal, so there are a lot of new things to think about.  I haven’t had time to test them myself, so I thought it would be a good idea to revisit one of my old favorites, Raikou Eels. I not only helped create it, but have taken it to multiple Regionals top 8 finishes.  I will be breaking down 2 different ways to play Raikou Eels – their strengths and weaknesses as well as ideal ways to deal with popular matchups.

Table of Contents

I.Control Eels
II.Matchups
III.Gallade Eels

IV.Matchups
V.Conclusion

Raikou

This is our main attacker and the overall reason this deck is viable.  Raikou has only 120 HP, but  when combined with its ability, Shining Body and a Fighting Fury Belt tool card, it becomes quite the tank. It has 160 HP while also reducing any damage taken by 20 as long as we have a lightning energy attached. On top of that we run a high Rough Seas count, meaning if our opponent isn’t able to 1 shot our Raikou, we simply retreat them to the bench to heal while sending up another Raikou for them to deal with.  Raikou is also a basic none EX or GX Pokemon.  That means when our opponent knocks a Raikou out they only draw 1 prize, giving us a huge advantage in any matchup where our opponent struggles to do so.  Now to get into Raikou’s attack Thunder Lance. It costs 3 colorless energy and does 50 + 20 damage for each lighting energy attached to Raikou. This means if we get 3 lightning energy attached to Raikou, we are swinging for 110, ideally 120 with a Fighting Fury Belt, allowing us to pretty much 1-2 shot anything relevant in the current format.

Eelektrik

Now Raikou seems great and all, but charging him up would be quite a struggle without Eelektrik. By using its Dynamotor ability, it allows us to once per turn per Eelektrik attach a lightning energy from our discard pile to one of our benched Pokemon. This makes it very easy to set up a Raikou by turn 2.  From there it allows us to continue to set up Raikou, rotate between them, and abuse the healing from Rough Seas. This keeps our opponent from taking any prize cards unless they are able to 1 shot our Raikou.    

Control Eels

This list is 1 card different from the list I played at Philadelphia Regionals earlier in the season. Although I didn’t have the best showing at that event, Sam Chen managed to pilot the list to a top 4 finish. I find this version of Raikou Eels to have the best matchups overall. It provides ways to gain an advantage versus almost all of the popular decks in Expanded, through the inclusion of Karen and Seismitoad-EX.    

 

Control Eels

Pokémon(16)

  • 4 Tynamo
  • 4 Eelektrik
  • 1 Eelektross PLB
  • 3 Raikou
  • 2 Seismitoad EX
  • 1 Mewtwo EX
  • 1 Shaymin EX

Trainers(34)

  • 4 Professor Sycamore
  • 2 Colress
  • 2 N
  • 1 Lysandre
  • 1 Hex Maniac
  • 1 AZ
  • 1 Karen
  • 4 VS Seeker
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 3 Fighting Fury Belt
  • 2 EVO Soda
  • 2 Float Stone
  • 1 Battle Compressor
  • 1 Super Rod
  • 1 Computer Search
  • 4 Rough Seas

Energy(10)

  • 7 Lightning Energy
  • 3 Double Colorless Energy

 

Card Choices

2 Colress

I wouldn’t recommend playing 2 Colress in just about any other deck in Expanded, but with Raikou Eels I’ve found it to be an extremely useful inclusion. It allows us to more consistently set up multiple Eelektrik by turn 3-4. With so many decks filling their benches as soon as turn 1-2, it makes it easy for us to get off an early Colress for 8-10 cards, giving us the extra fuel we need to get a solid set up so we don’t fall behind.   

1 Lysandre

The main strength of our deck revolves around preventing our opponent from drawing prize cards by rotating between our Raikou. Since Raikou has the ability to deal with almost any attacker our opponent would be using, I’ve found only playing 1 copy of Lysandre is more than enough for the rare occasions when we actually need access to a Pokemon on our opponent’s bench.

2 Seismitoad-EX

At Philadelphia Regionals I ran 1 Seismitoad completely untested as a last minute addition to combo with Karen, as I didn’t want to have a bad match versus Night March and Vespiquen based decks.  What I found was that Seismitoad was my MVP of the tournament. Not only does it help turn your Night March and Vespiquen matchups from unfavored to favored when paired with Karen, but it is also the preferred early-mid game attacker versus most item lock based decks; namely ToadBats, Trevenant and ToadTina.  I’ve also found it to be extremely useful to slow games down when you’re falling behind or when you get off to a slow start.  It’s also useful late game as it prevents your opponent from closing out games by limiting their item card usage. This is why I’ve increased the Seismitoad count to 2.

1 Karen

Although added to combo with Seismitoad-EX and improve your Night March and Vespiquen matchups, there are a few other cute plays with Karen that I thought I would mention. For example versus any Maxies or Archies based decks if they are able to get the Pokemon they plan to Maxie or Archie into their discard pile but are unable to get them into play, as long as it doesn’t slow down the progression of our own board, playing Karen can be a great way to slow down or completely prevent them from ever getting Maxies or Archies off. This can also be used versus any deck that runs rebirth Ho-Oh-EX as a main part of its strategy. Once again keep in mind to only do so if it doesn’t slow down our own set up too much.    

1 Eelektross

Now even though I am a big fan of Eelektross, I think if there is a flex spot in this list it’s probably this card. Although it does have its moments from time to time, and can also act as a counter to Jolteon-EX, if I felt the meta was going to shift in a such way that I needed to add a tech card for a certain matchup, I would be content with cutting Eelektross.  

Matchups

Maxies/Yveltal – 60/40

This matchup is pretty straight forward. Even if they should get a turn 1 Archeops out, we run 2 EVO Soda and 1 Hex Maniac to get around it, and only need to set up 1 or 2 Eelektrik for this matchup.  Ideally we get a Raikou attacking by turn 2, forcing them into attacking with Darkrai, due to fear of their Yveltal being 1 shot by Raikou.  Between Raikou’s Shining Body ability and Rough Seas, this will most likely cut Darkrai’s Night Spear damage down to only 60 per-turn. Even if this means we have to hit a Darkrai 3-4 times to knock it out, being able to switch between our Raikou to maximize our healing from Rough Seas, as well as Darkrai-EX being worth 2 prizes, puts this exchange in our favor.  If they opt for an early Gallade, we can simply use Mewtwo-EX’s X-Ball attack to trade knockouts with it for only a single Double Colorless energy. It doesn’t matter if we know if our opponent plays a Mewtwo-EX of their own.  It is still always smart to try and get a Fighting Fury Belt down onto our Mewtwo-EX.    

Trevenant – 60/40

A lot of this matchup, like most matchups for Trevenant, comes down to whether or not they go first. Fortunately for us even if they should go first, by playing a maximum count of Rough Seas as well as having many non EX attackers, this will allow us to slow down the game to a point where we can set up and take over from there.  Our MVP attacker for this matchup is actually Seismitoad, not just versus Trevenant, but versus most decks that focus around item locking their opponents.  They often struggle with being put under item lock themselves. With that in mind, our goal for the game is to get a Seismitoad into the active and try to use Quaking Punch as much as possible throughout a game, or until we have a Raikou or 2 fully set up.   Besides that, it’s important to make sure we have more energy than what is required to use Quaking Punch, as most Trevenant decks play Flare Grunt, and this will no longer become an out for them to break our Quaking Punch lock.   

Seismitoad-EX/Crobat – 80/20 and Seismitoad-EX/Decidueye – 70/30

At this point in time, it is unclear which of these Seismitoad variants is better. Fortunately for us, we have a favored matchup versus both of them, and it tends to play out the same way. Seismitoad’s Quaking Punch only deals 30 damage, 40 with a Fight Fury Belt, and Raikou’s Shining Body ability reduces damage taken by 20, as long as we have a lightning energy attached. That means Seismitoad is only dealing 10-20 per turn with Quaking Punch. On top of that we have Rough Seas, which will allow us to cycle between our Raikou and heal them, basically negating any damage the Seismitoad player does and giving us plenty of time to set up our Eelektrik and Raikou. With this version of the list, we also have the option to Quaking Punch lock them. While this is an extremely strong play to stall for time so we can set up, it should only be done if we can definitely recover from being Xerosic and Flare Grunt-ed, by either moving our Seismitoad with AZ or Float Stone, or attaching multiple energy with Eelektriks Dynamotor ability to our Seismitoad-EX before making it our active. Then we can simply attach a lightning from our hand for the turn and continue our Quaking Punch lock.

Darkrai-EX/Dragons – 30/70

This matchup is a rough one.  The core strength of Raikou Eelektrik comes from it being hard for decks to find an easy way to 1 shot a Raikou with a Fighting Fury Belt early on in a game without overextending to do so.  Unfortunately for us Darkrai Dragons is able to very easily 1 shot a Raikou with a Fighting Fury Belt by turn 2-3 pretty consistently. The only real hope we have in this matchup is that they draw poorly for the first few turns, and we are able to take early knockouts, to keep energy out of play, and to prevent them from 1 shotting our Raikou for as long as possible.

Turbo Darkrai-EX – 40/60

This is similar to the Darkrai Dragons matchup, but they don’t ramp up their damage quite as fast, and they don’t run Double Dragon Energy to give their Darkrai’s Dark Pulse a massive damage boost.  There’s nothing to special to cover in this matchup.  As long as we are able to set up a Raikou attacking by turn 2 and start 2-3 shotting their Darkrai, we should be able to keep up with them throughout the game.  If they are forced into attacking with a Darkrai with Night Spear and we have the option to Lysandre up and hit one of benched Dark Pulse Darkrai, this is generally the prefered line of play. Regardless, we will negate most of the damage a Night Spear attack will do through Rough Seas. Besides that, keep in mind that if we get enough energy into play to use Eelektross’ Crush and Burn in the early to mid game to 1 shot or clean up a damaged Darkrai-EX, it is often worth sacrificing up to all of our energy on board to do so.

Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon – 70/30

Not to much to touch on here. If either of these decks get off to a slow start, using Seismitoad’s Quaking Punch early is ideal. If we’re unable to do this, it won’t be a big problem as our overall gameplan is to simply play Karen and follow it up with a Quaking Punch at any point in the game. Although using Quaking Punch after playing Karen is ideal, simply playing Karen itself while having a set up Raikou with a Fighting Fury Belt is often enough to prevent them from taking any prize cards the following turn.

Gallade Eels

This version of Raikou Eels was initially brought to light by Michael Slutsky after he placed top 8 with it at Arizona Regionals. This deck draws its strength from being able to more consistently handle Dark Pulse Darkrai-EX based decks, since a more standard Raikou Eels list normally struggles with those matchups.

 

 

Gallade Eels

Pokémon(15)

  • 4 Tynamo
  • 4 Eelektrik
  • 4 Raikou
  • 1 Gallade BKT
  • 1 Mewtwo EX
  • 1 Shaymin EX

Trainers(34)

  • 4 Professor Sycamore
  • 2 N
  • 1 Colress
  • 1 Lysandre
  • 1 Hex Maniac
  • 1 AZ
  • 1 Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
  • 4 VS Seeker
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 3 Fighting Fury Belt
  • 3 Battle Compressor
  • 2 Level Ball
  • 2 Float Stone
  • 1 Super Rod
  • 1 Computer Search
  • 3 Rough Seas

Energy(11)

  • 8 Lightning Energy
  • 3 Double Colorless Energy

 

Matchups

Maxies Yveltal – 60/40

This matchup becomes a little more up and down than it is with the Control list. If we can get out an early Gallade, they can no longer rely on Darkrai to be a viable attacker for the matchup. However, if they get out a turn 1-2 Archeops, it becomes more difficult for us to get our Eelektrik set up, as we no longer run EVO Soda. We do, however, run a higher Battle Compressor count, so getting off a solid Hex Maniac turn to evolve our Tynamos shouldn’t be too difficult. Since we only need 1-2 Eelektrik to fully take over a game, it keeps this matchup very much in our favor.

Trevenant – 30/70

This is one of the matchups that takes a big hit when switching over to the Gallade version of the deck. Not only do we cut down on our Rough Seas count, but we also lose our best attacker for this matchup in Seismitoad-EX, while also increasing our overall item count. While we can generally grind games out and get close to winning, we are almost never able to quite close out games.

Seismitoad-EX/Crobat – 65/35 and Seismitoad-EX/Decidueye – 60/40

While our general gameplan for this matchup stays the same, overall our deck becomes more susceptible to item lock, and we lose the ability to item lock our opponent through the use of our own Seismitoad-EXs Quaking Punch.  I still find that if we are able to set up multiple Raikou, these matchups are still favorable.

Turbo Darkrai-EX – 60/40 and Darkrai-EX/Dragons – 60/40

The main reason to play the Gallade list over the Control list is these 2 matchups. There is a drastic difference with them going from unfavored to favored matchups.  Our overall gameplan is pretty simple – get Gallade out as fast as possible and start knocking Darkrai-EXs out.  The only other thing to note is to make sure to pressure the Dark Pulse Darkrai-EXs over any other of their attackers. Rough Seas will generally mitigate most of, if not all, the damage from attacks like Night Spear, Chaos Wheel etc.    

Vespiquen/Flareon – 40/60

Although this matchup goes from favored to unfavored with us cutting Karen and Seismitoad-EX, it is still a very winnable matchup.  The first few turns will be very telling as to whether we will be able to take the game.  If they struggle to take early 1 shots on our Raikou, start to fall behind in the prize race, and are unable to find a turn or 2 to take a knockout as well as Hex Maniac in the same turn, we should be set for a win.  However, more often than not they should be able to start 1 shotting our Raikou from turn 2 on while also finding turns to Hex. This will completely shut us out of the game. On top of that, I expect most lists to start including a copy of Oranguru. This will shut out our last chance option of N-ing them to 1 or 2 and hoping they dead draw.  

Night March – 20/80

This is another matchup where we take a big hit for not playing Karen and Seismitoad-EX. This matchup plays out generally the same as versus Vespiquen Flareon, but Night March is a lot more consistent at hitting the high numbers early on to 1 shot a Raikou than Vespiquen Flareon. That means overall this matchup is a disaster for us. Our only real hope is that they don’t run Oranguru or are unable to get it into play, and we can N them to 1 or 2 and they dead draw.

Conclusion

If I was going to play Eels at Saint Louis Regionals, it would most likely be with one of the 2 builds shown above. However, with the seemingly continuous rise in popularity of Turbo Darkrai-EX and Darkrai-EX Dragons, as well as a lackluster showing from Night March and Vespiquen at our last major Expanded event in San Jose Regionals, I’m leaning heavily toward Gallade Eels as my favorite of the 2 builds for Saint Louis Regionals.

I hope guys enjoyed reading.

-Azul

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