Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Regionals: The last hurrah of the metagame as we know it

Blastoise is not dead yet!

Hello everyone!

After a rogue –article and nostalgia article, it’s time to get to the present format. The Spring Regionals will be held this weekend and they are the last tournaments to be played with a BW-Plasma Storm format. After that the metagame we once knew will be turned upside down and lots of shifts will happen between tiers.

Today, I’ll look into the decks that I predict will win the Regionals and analyze if there is any space for surprise contenders. After all, a winner of Regional Championships gets a whopping 120 Championship Points! For the U.S. players these are the last meaningful tournament before National Championships, which makes it huge.

Also, I would like to remind everyone that the deadline for The Deck Out –playmat design contest is 15th of April, so if you have time and energy to design me a playmat, please do! I have already gotten a pile of great entries, but the more options I have the better! I’ll put all the playmat designs to the vote 15th of April, so be sure to vote your favorite mat!

Let’s get going and start with the current BDIF.

Landorus EX /With Garbodor has taken a step forward and has once again started putting out articles about competitive Pokémon TCG. This decklist is Tyler Ninomura’s Oregon States Championships winning decklist from Masters Division. It’s everything but a “standard” Garbodor and that’s why I really think it’s worth taking a look. To check the Poké article, click here.


3x Landorus EX
2x Mewtwo EX
1x Tornadus EX
4x Trusbbish
3x Garbodor  


4x Professor Juniper
3x N
2x Bianca
2x Colress
1x Cheren
2x Ultra Ball
1x Heavy Ball
1x Computer Search  
4x Pokémon Catcher
4x Hypnotoxic Laser
2x Virbank City Gym
2x Giant Cape
2x Rescue Scarf 
1x Eviolite
3x Switch
1x Escape rope


4x Double Colorless Energy
8x Fighting Energy


When you look at the list and have been reading a lot of my articles, one thing should strike out from the list – 12 Supporters and 3 Balls!!! The list screams of inconsistency, but in the end it can’t be inconsistent, because it won of the biggest State Championships played in the U.S. this year.

So, what’s the secret behind the decklist? If you have read my latest report with Landorus EX without Garbodor, you’ll notice that I was able to win games even though I didn’t draw into Supporters in many games. That’s also the secret of this deck. Thanks to the heavy Garbodor line, this deck doesn’t need Supporters in order to set up Garbodor and or to attack with Hammerhead (see the one energy energy cost). Also, one of the main factors attributing to the victory of Tyler was the fact that his opponent’s didn’t know about his list. It’s easy to hit the decks’ weaknesses, now that you see the list, but in the tournament, you always expect to see the standard variations of any deck (in Garbodor’s case4 Switches, thin Garbodor lines, no Virbanks etc.).  

Landorus for Regionals?

Even though you can find information about almost any Landorus EX variant from the internet, it doesn’t change one fact – it’s still the BDIF. I really respect Tyler’s winning list and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase of popularity in Garbodors now again in Regionals. Historically-looking, Garbodor has been doing very well in the past Regionals, because most people just neglect the playing of Tool Scrapper, thus making the games easy for Garbodor variants.

This deck may seem clunky and is clunky from time to time, but it doesn’t matter, because even when being clunky it’s able to either stop your opponent’s game completely (with Garbodor) or put early pressure on your opponent (Landorus EX). The deck is a prime example of how supporter counts and numbers don’t always tell the truth.  

If you are looking for a very good placement from Regionals, I encourage you to play any Landorus EX variant. Whether you want to play it with Garbodor or without Garbodor is up to you, but none of those options is a bad one. Landorus EX variants will stay in the top tier as long as Plasma Freeze is released and after that… Well that’s a story for another day!

Darkrai EX

As much as I love Hammertime, I believe that the best result can be done with the help of just straightforward and fast Darkrai EX variant. Darkrai EX doesn’t have any bad match-ups and thanks to Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, it has gotten a lot stronger.

The reason why I lost with my Darkrai EX in my States Championships and eventually switched to Landorus EX in the second tournament was the fact that I couldn’t draw into Supporters in the early game. Darkrai EX is a lot more vulnerable when it comes to the early turns that Landorus EX decks. All Landorus EX needs in order to start putting pressure on the opponent is 1 Fighting Energy. Darkrai EX needs Sableye for the starter spot and 3 energy on the Darkrai EX, before it can do anything. Granted, Hypnotoxic Lasers can be recycled with Junk Hunt, but unless you have Virbank City Gym in play as well, Hypnotoxic Lasers aren’t that helpful.

In my opinion, Darkrai EX is clearly the second best deck of the current format. The best thing about it is that it’s a Basic deck. Basic decks are often faster, more consistent and have extra firepower thanks to the PoisonCombo. It’s also good not to forget that Darkrai EX easily OHKOs Eelektrik and it can even reach the magical 140 damage with one hit, which is enough to OHKO a Blastoise. Before PoisonCombo, Darkrai EX variants had trouble dealing with Blastoise decks, unless Darkrai EX decks ran Mewtwo EX, but nowadays, the deck has a lot more consistent match-up against Blastoise variants.  

I believe Darkrai EX is a good play if you feel comfortable with your own list. There are loads of ACE Spec. options for Darkrai EX variants and also there is the everlasting debate, whether to run Keldeo EX or not to run Keldeo EX. If you have found your own way of playing Darkrai EX, I encourage you to play it in the tournament, because Big Basic decks’ games often get very generic no matter how much the lists vary.


My opinion about RayEels has always been the same – I wouldn’t play it in a tournament I’m aiming to win. The reason for these are the old ones: Tynamo is too donkable especially with Laser around, Eelektrik only has 90 HP, the deck isn’t mobile enough, if you go second against any deck, you’re in a disadvantage etc. I could go on forever. But I don’t need to, because if you have been reading my entries, you already know all of these things.

I can’t advice anyone to play this deck in the Regionals. However, no matter what I say or write, there will be loads of RayEels in each Regionals nonetheless. And some of them will be doing very well! I don’t know how they do it, but somehow they manage to avoid the Tynamo openings against Landorus EX decks and probably have luck on their side in most of the matches.

I don’t like the deck, but if you really want to run RayEels in Regionals, I have a list that you could take some influence of when thinking about the last-minute changes to your own RayEels list.


2x Emolga
4x Tynamo
3x Eelektrik
2x Rayquaza EX
1x Shiny Rayquaza
1x Victini EX
1x Raikou EX


4x Professor Juniper
4x N
3x Skyla
2x Bianca
1x Colress
4x Pokemon Catcher
2x Level Ball
3x Ultra Ball
1x Victory Piece
4x Switch
1x Tool Scrapper
1x Super Rod
2x Skyarrow Bridge
1x Energy Search


8x Lightning Energy
5x Fire Energy


The main question with Blastoise is what to play with it – Black Kyurem EX or Mewtwo EX –or both?!  It fully depends on your metagame and as Spring Regionals are usually very huge tournaments, there is no way of telling, what you are going to face. That’s why I’m leaning towards Mewtwo EX variant. There is one very simple reason for this – it’s not as good for example against Darkrai EX variants as the Black Kyurem EX variant, but it has overall more consistent match-ups against the field. And what’s the most important part for Blastoise decks – Mewtwo EX is a very good card against Garbodor variants as long as you tech 1 or 2 Double Colorless Energy into your deck.

Blastoise is the last Mohican of stage2 decks and States already showed that things are looking up for Blastoise. Garbodor  is a huge problem even if you are prepared against it and when your deck is geared towards Garbodor match-ups, other match-ups will suffer. There just is no way of making stage2 deck consistent enough in the current ultra-fast format, where your Squirtle can easily be OHKOed in T1. However, on the good side, Blastoise is the only deck in the format, which is impossible to stop if they get their game rolling quickly. If you have a good, consistent Blastoise list and feel like having a good two days in Regionals, Blastoise can be a good choice.

However, I must emphasize that Blastoise is NEVER a SAFE choice. Stage2 decks aren’t consistent enough and in a long run like Regionals (7-8 rounds and top32), you will eventually run out of consistency. And when this happens, you will lose. I wouldn’t have the guts to play Blastoise, but if you feel comfortable with your Blastoise, it’s still a viable option.

Surprise decks, rogues???

The ever-so-interesting question once again is: will there be any secret decks or rogues in Spring Regionals? I will bluntly answer: no, there won’t be any. The explanation for this is pretty simple. If anyone would have come up with anything, they would have probably played it in the States. Leaving the ace.dec for Regionals is a huge gamble and running it in a few States, is a lot wiser strategy. Also, as the metagame is soon going to change dramatically, some of the games’ best deck builders may already have their eyes on their Nationals’ decks. However, when it comes to the so-called “rogue” decks, there may be a few of them although they should be known by the public at this point of the season. These decks are.

Plasma Klinklang is everyone’s the favorite tier X deck. You already know that I don’t enjoy the deck and think that it pretty much sucks, but it has had its fair share of success in the States as well, so you can’t really neglect it completely. I won’t even say what I think about playing Klinklang, but if you are worried about your Klinklang match-up, I advice you to read my past article: . Also, if you happen to have Underground subscription, Mark Hanson wrote a very thorough (too thorough IMO, lol) article about Klinklang and its match-ups. You’ll win Klinklang as long as you know what to do against it and have at least some kind of game plan against it.

is a deck that was introduced in my blog by my good friend Matijs’ Moree. He placed 3rd with it in the Dutch Regionals, which isn’t an easy task! I have tested the deck a bit and really enjoy it and I believe the reason, why it can be playable for the U.S. Regionals as well, is that it’s still surprise for many players. Not everyone reads The Deck Out and even though Mark Hanson featured it in his UG article as well, people may know about it, but have no idea how to play against it. If you are feeling like you need a change from the dull metagame decks and have e.g. guaranteed your invite for Worlds’, this deck is really worth a spin.

Empoleon/Landorus EX/Dusknoir
is another very interesting deck. It has huge trouble against Darkrai EX variants, but thanks to Dusknoir, all the stage2 decks are very easy to defeat for the deck. Without Catcher they will get rid of the opponent’s Eelektriks and Blastoises with Dusknoir’s Ability and steamroll the game from there. The deck is probably the most consistent deck in the format, but because it lacks firepower in some match-ups, it isn’t a heavily played metagame deck.

Lugia EX variants…
Well, if you feel like winning in a lottery, Lugia EX variants may work. But my advice would be sit tight with your Lugia EXs and wait until more Plasma cards are released and when it really becomes playable. At the moment it’s only a mediocre card with a lot of weaknesses, but as more cards to support it will be released, it will get better.   

Last, but not least, I want to point out something for Juniors players. Quad Sigilyph does exist and in order to win Regionals, you must have a plan against it. So, if you are a Poké-parent who has a Junior, or a Junior reading this, remember to have a plan against Quad Sigilyph. It can be anything from Garbodor to Victini (V-Create), but the most important thing is to have it. Quad Sigilyph has been very popular in Juniors and it has been winning tournaments, so even though it’s non-existent in the other age groups, it’s still a big threat in the Juniors division.


To conclude, it’s pretty crazy to think that the season is already so far! Only Regionals and then it’s already time for the last set of the season and Nationals. The time sure flies fast. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the article and that it was useful for your last-minute Regionals’ preparations.

Next week it’s a whole new story as I will continue my story about my competitive career and will take a sneak peek to Plasma Freeze and what the future has to offer. Also, I’m working on my new Underground article at the moment as well, which will be a bomb for sure, so be sure to look for it. The school semester is ending and thankfully I already have my summer-job, so I can relax the upcoming weeks and concentrate on writing about Pokémon (and responsible business, lol).  

If you have any questions considering Regionals or your deck choices, feel free to ask and I’ll answer as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading and good luck for everyone attending Regionals!


  1. Too thorough ^_^;

    To be fair, I think people are just waiting to be caught off guard. At the end I cited the fact that of the 5 PlasmaKlang variants that made it to Top 16 in Week 3, all 5 went on to make Top 4, and 2 won. That's some impressive Top Cut prowess. Especially for a somewhat fringe-deck without a ton of people playing it.

    1. Dude,check your math 5 isn't less than four!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. He is referring to multiple tournaments. There was more than one top 4.

    3. Where can I read the article on the klingklangdeck. I'm still a believer ;)

  2. Esa
    you are bad..

  3. I feel that to many of your recent articles are relying on people having read your other stuff. Your neglecting the full content to save time writing/reading. I used to be able to link friends and new players to your an article of yours to help them see current metagame but now id have to link them to a few to get the whole picture unless they already are a competitive player. Just how I have been feeling.

    1. Do you have any idea how much of work it is to make a full overview (with every detail) about a current metagame? You should be thankful in the first place that these articles are available.

      Players are so lazy nowadays... When I started playing, I was a noob yes, there were sources like this, yes, but very limited. I didn't even use them, my skills consisted out of my own skills, not out of some skills collected at some websites. Maybe it sounds weird, but people rely to much on sites like this...

    2. He just gave some constructive criticism dude. There is no need to get your panties in a twist just because the guy voiced his opinion. Don´t be such a hardass!

      Regardless I felt like this was a pretty poor article overall. The decklists are terribly made. I am sorry Esa, but I have seen many Rayeels and Garbodor decks that are way better built than your versions. 3 ultra ball and 2 level ball, really? This is not a good site to use for beginners or intermediate players, because these deck lists are terrible

    3. Hard to say for certain that the list is bad without testing it. 3 ultra and 2 level does seem like it wouldn't be enough. BUT, he's running 2 Emolga. Maybe the thought process is you just need to get out Emolga and you're good. I'm sure that the lists Esa is giving are ones that he has tested with and fit his play style, which is all you can ask of an author.

    4. Anonymous:
      Well, I voiced my opinion.
      This post was by far not the only one I am annoyed of, so it's not just because of his post.

    5. Honestly, Esa's lists have gotten really bad. Like... 3 Squirtle in Blastoise bad, or 3U/2L in RayEels, with a whole 2 Emolga. Like... 3/3 isn't even a standard split, 4/3 is. Not to mention he's only actually using 2 Rayquaza EX (his main attacker that he wants to play ASAP).

      And then there's that... Empoleon/Dusknoir is the most consistent deck* in the format. The hell? Yeah, setting up 2 Stage 2's, while you've only got a 2-0-2 line of one of them is definitely super consistent.

    6. Esa was one of the first to advocate for 4 Squirtle when the format changed. Before lasers, 3 was plausible.

      Any Empoleon deck is going to be fairly consistent thanks to diving draw, and a T2 Empoleon is almost guaranteed if piplups don't get KOed T1. I don't think anyone is advocating for a 2/0/2 Dusknoir line though; why would you think that?

  4. Can someone point me to a good (or at least a starting point) Quad Sigilyph deck list? My son is in Jr.'s and I want him to test against it..


    1. Here is the article that pretty much started it all.

      The list may need to be updated for Plasma Storm (Hypnotoxic Laser, etc.) or not. It's all personal preference.

    2. Thanks Steve!
      I will go check it out!!

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  6. Great (and not so comments refering to the last Anonymous, lol)!

    Mark: Yeah, I think you're correct even though I myself don't consider Klinklang as a deck as it's way easy to counter. However, as you said, over 50% of players aren't prepared against it in any way, so it has a good chance of top cutting. However, if it is in the finals of any Regionals, I'm greatly surprised. Best players always either prepare against all decks or can just outplay them.

    To Anonymous referring to my odler articles: I think the reason for that is that I have written SO much articles that if I were to make the articles in a way that you don't have to take a look at my older articles, I would just end up writing the same things over and over again and naturally that would be just plain stupid. Also, I don't want my articles to be one-time reads. If they were only one-time reads, I would be wasting time writing these articles. It shouldn't be too difficult to look for the older articles as they can be easily found from my blog. That's just how I see it.

    To Anonymous2: "Standard" Eelektrik lists play 3-3 Balls, the one card difference doesn't make THAT much difference especially since I have too Emolga. Just try it out if you don't believe me. It reminds me of when everyone was saying I was so bad, because I was running Chandelure/Vileplume without Gloom. 1 month later no one played Gloom... I must admit that since Eelektrik is one of my least-favorite decks in the format, the list isn't optima. However, I didn't say that anyone should netdeck the list, but only get some food for thought for it. There is are no absolute lists in Pokémon TCG, and my job is only to provide options for people.

    Thanks everyone for the comments, I'm glad I have people supervising the quality of my articles!

  7. A couple of comments:
    - Eels: I overall have to agree here; eels aren't going to see a lot of play. It's an unsafe pick with all the laser and landorus running around, and you need an extremely high pokemon count to prevent Tynamo donks.

    - Landorus/Empoleon/Dusknoir: AKA my pet deck from 2012, that I kept trying to make work and kept playing other things in tournaments because it didn't quite get there. With Eels no longer a major metagame force, it's a play I'm considering. If I was still writing, I could write a book on all the techs and matchup tricks this deck has at its disposal. A few tricks I've found with the deck in the current meta:
    1) I still run Stunfisk. Against Darkrai, it's usually 2 free prizes on their Keldeo.
    2) I often have run 1-2 EXP Shares. These are nice across the board.
    3) 4 Skyla and Computer Search. Your late game is Empoleon driven; it's extremely easy to set up if you have 4 Skyla and Computer Search. I've tried cutting to 3, but it's just bad.
    4) Energy Search. With EXP Share and Skyla available, you don't need as many basic energies in your deck. I'm not sure if 1 or 2 is optimal, but you definitely want 1 if you're going with the Skyla engine.
    5) Escape Rope is usually better than Switch if you focus on Dusknoir; if you don't, it's bad.

  8. I very much liked this article. Nice and simple, providing an overwiev. And i think your lists are fine. Every player should optimize them for their own style, so of course i will disagree with some details, but that is how it SHOULD be. :)
    RayEels, on the other hand, IMO will be played a lot, simply because the deck has been around for so long and none of the cards are hard to obtain.
    What do you think of Darkrai with a combination of lasers and hammers?

    1. have you been to worlds before Niels P?

    2. No, anonymous, I have not yet participated in worlds.


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