Hey, I am Drew Kennett from Arizona, one of the newest members of Some1sPC. I have qualified for the World Championships 6 times and have been playing the game for 12 years with numerous top cuts and tournament wins. Some of the most recent achievements have been my 2016 Arizona Regionals win with Greninja and my top 16 at the London International and San Jose Regionals, all with Greninja. I'm hoping to pass on some of the wisdom from my success by writing this article on Greninja. I’ll go over matchups, techs, etc… to help illustrate why I believe this deck is so good and how to play it at the highest level.
VI.Giratina and Georgia Regional
Going into last year’s Nationals, I wanted to play Greninja, but due to having very little experience with it at that point, I opted against it, being it was such a large and important tournament. I also then decided against it for Worlds that year, which turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of my Pokémon career. I’d like to say I’ve been playing Greninja since the beginning, but I never truly felt comfortable relying on it for a big tournament until Arizona Regionals came around.
Leading up to Arizona Regionals, my local testing group and I came up with what we thought to be the most optimal list for the deck. It ended up performing superbly for me that weekend, and to come full circle, I even ended beating Trevenant in the finals, the same deck that scared me from playing Greninja at Worlds. With Arizona Regionals under my belt, I could approach this season with a newfound sense of confidence, and it was time to set my sights on the next big task: the International Championships in London.
With the entire metagame shifting towards “play Yveltal/Garbodor, or beat Yveltal/Garbodor,” I was hesitant on playing Greninja in London. I gave up on the deck up until two nights before I left, when I started testing it with Max Potion and Enhanced Hammer. These two techs proved to be invaluable in the Yveltal/Garbodor matchup. I only testing four matches against it, but the techs helped to dominate all four games. I sleeved up it up and headed to London.
After getting there, I told a couple of other people about my list and three of them decided to pick it up. I ended up losing my win-and-in to Top 8 and ended up with top 16, Sammy Sosa finished in top 64, Grafton Roll made Top 8, and we do not want to talk about the fourth person (Sorry, Michael).
After finally landing back in Arizona, time to relax was scarce, as I was about to leave for San Jose Regionals in just four days and had to work three of them. This did not give me much time to test the Expanded Format, but it was easy enough to adapt. I sleeved Greninja up once again. Day 1 of the tournament was extremely easy. During Day 2, I, once again, lost my win-and-in and ended with another top 16 finish with Greninja. Now, with Georgia Regionals as the next big tournament right around the corner, this article will guide you through all of the matchups and how you can overcome them.
In Standard, there are many ways to build Greninja and be successful, as evidenced by the variety of lists that have been seen doing well. However, if your goal is to Top 8 and win the tournament, you need to prepare for specific matchups. The basic Greninja list running around right now is the one that did well at the London Internationals, piloted by Grafton and yours truly.
- 4 TalonFlame
- 3 Froakie
- 4 Frogadier
- 4 Greninja
- 3 Greninja BREAK
- 4 Professor Sycamore
- 3 N
- 1 Fisherman
- 1 Lysandre
- 1 Ace Trainer
- 4 VS Seeker
- 4 Dive Ball
- 3 Bursting Balloon
- 2 Ultra Ball
- 2 Enhanced Hammer
- 2 Max Potion
- 2 Super Rod
- 3 Faded Town
- 3 Splash Energy
- 7 Water Energy
There are some unusual cards in this list that vary from earlier Greninja lists. These changes tailor Greninja’s matchups favorably to the decks more common in the metagame right now.
This card is amazing. It makes so many unfavorable matchups favorable. It gives you a chance against M Mewtwo EX instead of just taking the loss. When paired with Faded Town, you do enough recurring damage that they are unable to Damage Change it away, which is the key to that matchup. When up against Mega Rayquaza, even though it is not the most popular deck, the same rules apply. You are able to discard all of their DCE’s while dealing damage with the Faded Town in order to overwhelm that deck. The real reason to play Enhanced Hammer is for the perceived best deck in format: Yveltal/Garbodor. The main way that Greninja loses to Yveltal/Garbodor, other than dead drawing, is a huge Yveltal EX that ends up one-hitting two or three of your Greninja BREAKs. When you have the two to three Enhanced Hammers and even maybe the Team Flare Grunt, that ends up not being an option for the Yveltal deck, and they end up having to do chip damage to two-shot all of your Greninja, while you disrupt their energy and three-shot them. I know the math doesn’t completely add up, as they are 2HKOing you and you are 3HKOing them, but that it why Enhanced Hammer is not the only card needed to make the Yveltal matchup favorable for Greninja.
This was the card that caught everyone by surprise in London. After the Yveltal player realizes that they are no longer able go the route of trying to OHKO you, they should decide that they need to start using Y cyclone to preserve their Energy while dealing enough damage in order to get the 2HKO. While they are doing that, you are sitting behind a hand filled with Max Potions and Enhanced Hammers in order to decrease their knockout potential. The Max Potion takes the two-shot they normally were getting and turns it into a three-shot that will always swing the prize trade in your favor. Now the math adds up, as a 3HKO against an EX is much better than a 3HKO against a non-EX. Max Potion’s utility in other matchups is almost nonexistent though and you have to accept that. There will always be chances to use it when your opponent can’t quite achieve the OHKO, but more often than not you will be getting OHKO’d by the vast majority of the format.
The reason that I picked Talonflame to discuss last is because this card is something that, in standard, has fallen out of the limelight. This card took Worlds by storm, giving Greninja the consistency to make it a top tier deck. Then, after Worlds, people decided that it would be a better deck with cards like Octillery BKT or Jirachi XY67 instead. I do not hate Jirachi, and I even messed around with it while I was testing, but the utility and consistency that Talonflame can give you is just too good to ignore.
Many more options open up when you start Talonflame, even though Aero Blitz usually is not your first attack. Typical early turn progression when you start Talonflame is to retreat it on turn two to a Frogadier in order to Water Duplicates, then on turn three, retreat the Frogadier to a Talonflame and start to Aero Blitz to set up your entire deck while your opponent tries to kill a 130HP bird. Even if the consistency is not enough for you, Talonflame opens up plays that you normally would never have. Garbodor decks are the main decks that do not want to see a Talonflame start. You immediately get to use your Aero Blitz to grab a Lysandre + whatever card you might need in that particular situation. The following turn you can play the Lysandre to either KO the Trubbish, or if it is a Garbodor already, you can Lysandre it up and deal the 40 damage to it with Aero Blitz, while searching your deck for a VS Seeker to repeat next turn and get the KO.
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