Written by Russell LaParre
What up humans! This is Russell LaParre and I’m completely stumped as to what to play for Orlando Regionals so I figured I’d write up my thoughts on the format as a whole. Without getting everyone too angry, here is my tier list based upon total number played in the tournament. This tier list in no way reflects my individual opinion of the decks as I think some of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 plays can take home the W.
Tier 1 Breakdown:
With a relatively low learning curve and the strength to snowball a game out of control, I think M Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor will be the single most played deck in Orlando. Most lists will be packing 3 Shrine of Memories and 2 Parallel City as their stadium counts. I expect most of these decks to play a 4/4 Mewtwo-EX/M Mewtwo-EX line and a 2/2 line of Garbodor for consistency sake. Nothing too out of the ordinary should come from these decks besides Pokémon Center Lady, Olympia, or Misty’s Determination (Kevin Murphy used this in his deck top 8 list at the latest ARG Tournament) as most of the lists that are posted online follow a standard trend. You need to have a game plan to beat this deck or at least go 50/50 with them.
Bad Matchups: M Gardevoir-EX, M Scizor-Ex
Volcanion appeals to the players who just love to go all out and hit as hard as possibly can on turn 1. While most of the lists differ on stadium counts between Scorched Earth and Sky Field, every list should be run 4 Volcanion, 4 Volcanion-EX, 2 Shaymin-EX, and potentially a Hoopa-Ex. The trainer and supporter line is fairly standard with most players using 2 Escape Rope to combat Yveltal BKT. The only huge debate in cards I tend to see from the community is whether or not this deck should run Max Elixir or Acro Bike. I tend to monitor my opponent’s opening turn on Game 1 to see whether they play 1 or the other. If they play Max Elixir you need to plan out your Mid game strategy accordingly. I like to imagine a bad scenario where my opponent hits a Double Max Elixir/Energy attachment onto their Volcanion-EX after you just cleared out their only attacker on board. Before this happens, during the middle of the game I ask myself “What can you do to compensate against it?” “Will their attack even matter?” “Should I plan to N them first to bring the odds of this happening down?” Other than that the deck should be fairly straight forward with the occasional Mr.Mime, Mew-EX or Mew FCO teched in to try and swing other Tier 1 match ups in their favor.
Bad matchups: Yveltal BKT, Greninja, Gyarados
Yveltal BKT/Mew FCO/
Yveltal BKT gets tons of play due to its ability Fright Night and for being a dark deck which is one of the popular types in the community. I expect most lists to be playing 3 Yveltal BKT, 1 Umbreon-EX, 2 Mew FCO, and 2 Yveltal-EX with potential tech for Gyarados like Spinda PRC. Their stadium counts will usually be 2 Parallel City and 1 Reverse Valley but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Silent Lab in a list to swing random match ups in their favor. You can prepare for this deck by adding a few switch cards or Olympia to not get stalled out by Lysandre/Fright Night.
Bad matchups: Greninja, Rainbow Road, M Gardevoir-EX, Xerneas BREAK, Gyarados
Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX will see a ton of play due to its ability to control rogue match ups with Giratina-EX and hit hard with Darkrai-EX. Most lists will follow the standard line up with 3 Darkrai-EX, 2 Giratina-EX, and an Yveltal GEN. If they’re not playing Garbodor then I’d expect their list to play Enhanced Hammer and Crushing hammer so try to be weary of that. Their stadium count is usually only 2 Parallel City but Reverse Valley may be included now for extra damage against Yveltal BKT, Volcanion, and Xerneas BKT. To tech against this deck I’d play Enhanced Hammer, Jirachi XY67, and Pokémon Ranger depending on how badly my deck is affected by Giratina-EX.
Bad matchups: Yveltal BKT, Rainbow Road, M Gardevoir-EX
M Rayquaza-EX is one of the strongest decks in the format but it is heavily teched against by a majority of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 decks through Parallel City. I would expect most variants of the deck to play Metal or Water energy for the ability boost by Magearna-EX or Manaphy-EX. Now that Karen is legal, I would definitely expect to see this deck play it as Karen + Sky Field into Ultra Ball for Shaymin-EX is the best way for the deck to recover against Parallel City. Other than that they should be following a similar format for lists that Connor Finton and Jose Marrero found so much success with during last season minus the Puzzle of Time and Zoroark BKT.
Bad Matchups: Yveltal BKT, M Scizor-EX, Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX
Rainbow Road is the deck where if you draw well and get a great start, you’ll beat about anything in the format. If the deck bricks, it bricks hard. This inconsistency is the sole reason I put Rainbow Road in Tier 2. I expect Rainbow Road lists to play the Hoopa-EX engine paired with either Flygon-EX, Jolteon-EX, Volcanion-EX, or Shaymin-EX. The best lists will play a combination of Exp.Share and Max Elixir so I never like to think that I removed any chance of getting hit by Rainbow Force if I clear their only energy on board. Much like M Rayquaza-EX the deck is severely hindered by Parallel City. A combination of Garbodor, N, and Parallel City put this deck in the dirt. Try to include Parallel City in your list to fight this deck but you can also rely on Rainbow Road’s inconsistencies to luck out against it.
Bad Matchups: M Scizor-EX, Vileplume Variants
Gyarados caught some hype after Bob Zhang took home a win piloting it at an LC in New Jersey a few weeks ago. The deck plays similar to Night March in being a fast paced 1 energy attachment powerhouse. Most of the lists I see played include 4 Puzzle of Time, 3 Buddy Buddy Rescue, and 4 Bursting Balloon to deal with the times when you prize your Magikarp. The deck plays a 4-4 Gyarados line and 2-2 Octillery for Pokémon and may include Mr.Mime due to the known tech against it, Spinda PRC 115. Celebi XY93 and Hoopa STS actually place counters on the Magikarp so they’re ideal hard counters. While the deck may hit extremely hard and quick, it’s fragile and vulnerable to a late game N. Include one of the tech cards above if you want to a have a heavy advantage against it.
Bad Matchups: Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX, Greninja, M Steelix-EX, Vileplume Variants
Greninja plays exactly the same as it did during Worlds 2016. The deck includes 4 Talonflame and the standard 4-4-4-3 Greninja BREAK line. Most lists will be playing 4 Bursting Balloon and a high count of Faded Town or Rough Seas. The deck has some setbacks in this format due to the lack of tool removal and having no strong counter against Garbodor’s Garbotoxcin. This won’t stop the Greninja fanatics from risking it all and hoping to dodge Garbodor decks at the tournament.
Bad Matchups: Mewtwo-EX/Garb, Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX Garb, Vileplume Variants
M Scizor-EX is the best Mega deck in the format that has control through its attacks. It’s incredibly simplistic and one-dimensional but that usually leads to its success. Since the deck has a fairly one-dimensional engine, its free to play cards such as Garbodor, Team Flare Grunt, Crushing Hammer, and Puzzle of Time to put its opponent as far behind it as possible. During the first couple of weeks of the Standard format, M Scizor-EX jumped on hype train after placing well at a few League Challenges but Volcanion eventually popped up and slowly but surely booted it out of existence. Not many cards counter this deck but it’s unable to perform well if it runs into Volcanion multiple times during a tournament.
Bad Matchups: Volcanion/Volcanion-EX
I don’t want to dive too deep into the Tier 3 lists as most of them fail to perform in tournament due to the inherent inconsistencies in their strategies. You may run into a 1 or 2 them in the early rounds of the tournament but most of these will need to run hot to see success. I wouldn’t play any deck in the tournament without having at a close or winning matchup against M Mewtwo-EX, Yveltal BKT, and Volcanion-EX.
Orlando Regionals is gearing up to be the largest Regionals in Pokémon history. Since the Tournament Organizer already announced that we are not having 2 different flights of Swiss Play, players need to have an X-2 record in order to make the Day 2 and play in the final 6 rounds. The key to finding success in this tournament will be playing a consistent list and hitting the match ups you’re either prepared for or have an advantage against. This format is quite match up oriented and it sucks but it’s something we have to deal with from time to time playing a competitive trading card game. I’m excited about playing in this gigantic tournament, essentially Nationals 2.0, as it brings together not only the top players in the game but the best personalities the community has to offer. This is going to be an exciting weekend and I think the T.O.’s will deliver a quality tournament for the East Coast to be proud of.