What is that Strange Aroma? – 1st Place Seniors Melbourne Regionals Report
This is my first article for Ace trainer, so let me introduce myself. My name is Henry and I’m in my last year of seniors. I’m a Melbourne player and I started playing competitively around the time of nationals last year.
My start to this season was rather poor. I went into Dandenong Cities awfully unprepared playing Genesect and lost to Rayboar in the final round, missing cut. In Melbourne Cities I once again neglected preparation and testing, and despite looking like I would make top 4 after the end of round three, it ended up costing me, missing cut for the second time. When Geelong Cities came around I happened to become sick (just my luck) and couldn’t go. With three tournaments already down and no good performances, I knew that if I wanted to get my invite I had to attend three regionals to have a decent shot. So I took the trip up to Brisbane for Regionals and played Blastoise (as most of the seniors meta was Darkrai/Yveltal) it turned out that there was only a single Darkrai/Yveltal player and there was a plethora of bad matchups. Over the tournament I played against Genesect, Yeti and Heavy Metal Fairies (round three was a theme deck) and finished up the day on 1-1-2, missing cut yet again. I was pretty disappointed with my performance and a misplay against plasma game 3 still lingered in my mind.
Even though this happening was bad at the time, I think it spurred me on to really pour everything into my last two tournaments, the Canberra and Melbourne Regionals. I played extensively in almost every spare minute I had and eventually settled on Aromatisse/big basics with a heavy Suicune focus. The idea behind this was that running a thick safeguard line makes the Darkrai/Yveltal and plasma matchups very favourable along with improving most other matchups. Also, the surprise and “rogue” factor of this works well, as most people will not know how to play the matchup or play around Suicune. I’ll go into detail regarding matchups later on, but for now, here’s the list:
1 Cobalion EX
1 Landorus EX
2 Darkrai EX (1 at Canberra)
1 Yveltal EX
1 Skarmory EX
1 Virizion EX
1 Spiritomb plb
2 Level Ball
3 Ultra Ball
4 Muscle Band
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Super Rod
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Max Potion
2 Virbank City Gym
1 Double Colourless (2 at Canberra)
The 1 of Pokemon:
It may seem risky and often inconsistent to run only one copy of each of your attackers, but with the primary focus on the three Suicune, running more than one of Cobalion, Landorus, Yveltal and such is just not necessary, and with Super rod and Dowsing machine getting these back if needed is easily achievable. Skarmory is used mostly for its secondary attack, Tailspin-Piledriver which hits for 120 if the target has damage on it. With muscle band and Hypnotoxic laser, Skarmory becomes excellent at taking out pokemon with small amounts of damage such as Hammerhead/Nightspear, benched damage or residual poison damage from early on. Virizion EX is fairly self explanatory; preventing status conditions helps immensely in matchups against decks that run lasers or status conditions like Accelgor. Cobalion EX helps in the early game against plasma and especially Aromatisse mirror matches as it has a low energy attack that slows the opponent down. Steel bullet is also a great answer to Safeguard Pokemon. Landorus EX is very strong early game to spread damage. It hits Thundurus EX and Darkrai EX for weakness and knocks out Snorlax with Muscle band and Laserbank. It can also hit huge knockouts with Lands Judgement and Muscle band, Laserbank or both to knockout resistant pokemon like Lugia EX and Yveltal EX. The one Yveltal EX is a great attacker against opposing Yveltal EX’s and non-EX Pokemon your opponent may use to get through Suicune, as these often have high energy costs or low HP. Spiritomb was a card that I was on the verge of taking out; however, it helps so much against Genesect as they have to choose to Red Signal either Spiritomb or Aromatisse which allows me more setup time before they finish fully setting up and start G-boostering my Pokemon. I decided to keep this in as it gave me a fighting chance in the matchup just in case I ran into the deck.
Darkrai EX over Fairy Garden:
I had been testing both versions and I decided that even though it takes up a bench spot, I would choose Darkrai. It is a solid attacker and allowed me to run Laserbank which helps with crucial damage numbers. After having it prized one game in Canberra I realized that I needed to run two and that I had made a big mistake by only using one!
The idea of running three Suicune originally came to me just as a silly rogue idea, but as I played it more and more I found it to be working extremely well. There are a few key principles behind the concept that I’ll go into. The first is that most decks not only centre around EX Pokemon but often run only 1-2 non-EX attackers which in many cases cannot deal the 100 damage to Suicune to knock it out. If you stick Suicune active against Darkrai/Yveltal for example, they need to power up their non-EX Yveltal in order to hit enough to KO Suicune. Once they do this and my Suicune is knocked out, I bring up an Yveltal EX or any attacker that can knock it out (with muscle band or laser) and then KO it. With my opponents main non-EX attacker gone, (excluding Bouffalant, as with Virizion EX in play it cannot knock out Suicune) even if I’m return KO’d, I can still bring up another Suicune and my opponent will have no response. Another strategy behind Suicune is that often, non-EX attackers require a lot of resources as in the case of Snorlax in Plasma. If a Snorlax KO’s Suicune, I can either bring up Landorus or Yveltal and knock it out or bring up Cobalion and discard their double colourless energy. If they choose to put more energy onto Snorlax to knockout Cobalion, they will have used so many resources in terms of plasma energy, DCE’s and Colress machines that next turn, when I KO the Snorlax, I’m already very far ahead. Aside from these specific ideas with Suicune, it is just a very solid wall that your opponents will often not know how to play against.
1 Fairy energy, 1/2 Double Colourless:
I chose to run only one fairy energy as I felt I only needed one extra movable energy and I felt like running more basic energy would not really help with the terrible enhanced hammer matchup. As for the double colourless energy, it certainly helped out in several situations. It allows for more damage with Yveltal EX and an earlier Aurora Beam with Suicune. Also, it is better for a Suicune to be knocked out with a DCE than three Prism/Rainbow energy. Although I did like running two, I felt that it was the card I needed the least in the deck and so running a second Darkrai-EX over it at Melbourne was a very good choice.
Even though the NXD-XY format has ended, I think that going in depth about how each matchup plays still has some merit, so here we go:
Vs. Darkrai/Yveltal: 80-20, enhanced hammers: 55-45
As explained above, the Darkrai/Yveltal matchup is extremely favourable. They have a minimal number of ways to get around your Suicune. If they attack it with Bouffalant, Virizion prevents OHKO’s, and if they attack with non-EX Yveltal, it has a relatively large attack cost and once you KO that Yveltal, they have almost nothing to combat Suicune. If they run Absol it is still favourable for you, but they have a better chance. If they attack with Absol it is key that you follow up with a muscle band Hammerhead from Landorus to KO it. Despite the favourable matchup, if they run enhanced hammers they can quickly become a problem. In order to win against enhanced hammers, you have to try and save your N’s for after they junk hunt so that you can make sure the hammers aren’t in their hand. Along with this, you have to KO Sableyes as often as possible with Cobalion or Landorus with a muscle band and Laserbank. By doing this you can maintain your energy and deter their Enhanced hammers, and the matchup is the same as normal.
Vs. Virizion/Genesect: 65-35, Raichu: 60-40, Drifblim+Hammers: 45-55
Against Virizion/Genesect, your whole focus is to get out Spiritomb and make sure it stays benched. They will not be able to Red Signal and kill it with Emerald Slash which means they must attack with Genesect. This leaves it open to easy damage and potentially a KO. When they knocKOut your Spiritomb, you must do everything to try to super rod it back into the deck and then get it benched once again. You can then dowsing machine for the super rod if it gets KO’d again. Despite not having use of lasers in this matchup, if you spread enough damage with Hammerheads and Righteous Edges whilst max potioning off their damage from either Emerald Slashes or Megalo Cannons, you can then bring in Skarmory EX later on and take out their damaged Pokemon. If they run Raichu the matchup is fairly similar; however, the non-EX attacker threat is present so you have to make sure you can get off a muscle band Hammerhead to KO it every time one comes up. If they run Drifblim and hammers there is a problem. Once again try to wall with Suicune when necessary but if you feel they will KO you with Drifblim then simply use your low energy attackers or just sit behind Suicune rather than attacking with it. They will rarely put enough of your energy into the discard to hit high enough damage with Drifblim because of Spiritomb so just keep it in play and max potion any damage. In a large field of Virizion/Genesect, running an Entei EX can swing the matchup to highly in your favour.
Vs. Rayboar: 50-50/40-60, Rayboar/Delphox: 60-40
The matchup against Rayboar can be tricky, but it all depends on their Reshiram count. As Rayquaza’s Shred will not KO Suicune, they need to use Reshiram. If they only run one, you can KO it with a Suicune or any attacker (although Suicune is the safest) and then you’ve pretty much won the game. If they run multiples, it can become very hard as they can stream KO’s and your options are limited. To enhance the Rayboar matchup run a Kyogre EX, but not specifically as a Rayquaza EX counter. If you run this, you can KO Reshiram with Muscle band and Laser, and then hide behind another Suicune making them take prizes very slowly. Eventually you will KO all their Reshirams without losing energy. Against Rayboar/Delphox you have the advantage because they typically take out Reshiram. When they attack with a Delphox, you KO it with a Suicune or an Yveltal EX and they are unable to stream Delphoxes because it’s a stage 2. Once you KO their Delphox, they are put in a terrible position as their deck is dependant on its draw power. If they run Reshiram as well as Delphox, it can be difficult for you to win without running Kyogre EX. Running Palkia EX can also work well as you can 2HKO their Reshirams, OHKO their baby Rayquaza’s as well as improving the Blastoise matchup.
Vs. Blastoise: 45-55
In this matchup, they will attack with Blastoise and baby Black Kyurem. Sit behind Suicune until they KO it with baby Black Kyurem, and then try and KO it with an Yveltal EX. They will most likely KO it with Black Ballista, in which you bring up another Suicune. If they then knockout Suicune with Blastoise, you have to try to super rod Yveltal EX and then get it into play to KO Blastoise. If they have another in play and hit another Black Ballista you’ve lost, but if not simply wall again with Suicune and you’ve essentially won the game. If they draw like mentioned above you will have a tough time winning, although if they miss an attack at some point you gain the advantage. As there are very few Blastoise players in seniors, I chose not to tech for it but hard counters to the deck are Celebi EX and Palkia EX. If you run both of these you can KO their non EX attackers (Black Kyurem and Blastoise) and switch back behind a Suicune. If you run these, the matchup jumps up to roughly 75-25 in your favour.
Vs. Yveltal/Garbodor: 30-70
This is by far the worst matchup for the deck. They will shut off your free retreat, your Safeguard and your energy movement as well as re-enable their use of Lasers. You have to attack with your single energy attackers (Cobalion and Landorus) and then try and kill one of their Yveltal EX’s with your own. It’s important you attempt buy a turn with Suicune with the prize trade and save your tool scrapper/dowsing machine for crucial turns.
Vs. Plasma: 65-35
This is a very comfortable matchup because most of the time the opponent will only have one non-EX attacker – Snorlax. If you leave Suicune active there is very little they can do. If they power up Snorlax to KO Suicune, you simply KO it with Yveltal EX, Landorus EX or discard an energy with Cobalion EX. At this point they will have consumed so many resources and lost their non-EX attacker that the game is virtually over for them. Watch out for Red Signal on Aromatisse or benched EX’s as they may look to take prizes with Lugia. When possible, avoid benching 170 HP EX’s unless using them to take a knockout.
Phew, that was a huge block of text! So this is the deck I used at Canberra Regionals which I managed to win. I played almost the same list as I did in Melbourne; I replaced a Darkrai EX with a second DCE. Current CP: 150/250.
Round 1: Anonymous – Grass/psychic non meta deck. WW
Round 2: Angus J – Darkrai/Yveltal. WW
Round 3: Emily K – Darkrai/Yveltal. WW
Round 4: Michael Z – Michael and I are good friends and we decided to ID so that we would both make cut at 3-0-1 (also allowed us to actually eat). Tie
Round 5: Damian F (Junior winner) – Landorus/Mewtwo/Raichu/Garbodor. WW
Top 4: Emily K – Darkrai/Yveltal
I open Suicune, Spritzee and Virizion to her Bouffalant. I go first, getting an energy onto Suicune and I grab out Darkrai from the deck. We take a few turns to set up, with Suicune nullifying her attacks. She manages to power up baby Yveltal with a few Dark Patch, and takes the KO on Suicune. I KO it with a Night Spear + Muscle band + Laserbank, putting 30 onto her Yveltal EX. She hits Darkrai for 140 with Evil Ball, I then get out Skarmory EX, max potion my Darkrai and then Tailspin Piledriver with a Muscle band to take the KO on Yveltal. I then manage to bring out another Suicune, and just keep Aurora Beaming until the opportunity to take enough prizes to win the game arose.
The game carried out pretty much the same as game one, however she manages to get a Pokemon Catcher heads onto Aromatisse, and KO it. I managed to just wall a few turns with Suicune as normal whilst I set another up, and the game was a fairly textbook win for the matchup.
Finals: Michael Z – Tool Drop
Michael goes first, with an active Sigilyph to my Spritzee. He attaches to Trubbish, gets a few tools and a Surskit into play and then passes. I had nothing in my hand, so I play N. Off of my N I didn’t hit a single basic Pokemon, or a search card. It was looking as if I was going to lose turn 2. I played the only card I could, Hypnotoxic laser, and I flipped heads, I put down Virbank City Gym and ended my turn. My only chance to keep in the game was if he flipped tails (as Tool Drop decks run no Switch, only Float Stone). My saving grace happened, he flipped tails. He attached to Trubbish for the turn, got out Masqurain, and then passed once again, flipping heads on the sleep flip. I managed to get out Aromatisse, Darkrai and Landorus, retreat into Landorus and Hammer head for the KO, putting 30 onto Trubbish. He manages to take a knockout with Tool Drop, going down to four prizes. I Ultra ball for Cobalion EX, however I miss an energy off of my N, so I’m unable to attack, so I pass with Darkrai active. Michael misses the one tool he needed to take the KO due to Darkrai’s Pyschic resistance. I get an energy, retreat into Cobalion, Max Potion off the damage from Darkrai, Tool Scrapper his Exp. Share and a Float stone then KO his Trubbish with Righteous Edge + Laser. Once again he is one tool short of a KO, thanks to resistance. So he retreats into a Surskit and passes. The game plays on for a bit, him going down to one prize and me going down to two. He has enough tools on board for a KO, and all I have is a Suicune active. I play Laser, flip heads and pass. He once again flips tails. It goes into my turn, and I Night Spear his active Trubbish and KO the benched one with 40 damage, taking my last two prizes.
Phew, needless to say the first game was traumatic for both of us, and Michael was particularly shaken after the sleep flips, and to be honest so was I. Especially considering the fact that we’re friends it was sad to see the game be decided that way.
Game two I get a normal setup, I manage to start Landorus active and Hammerhead from turn one. He manages to power up a Trubbish, but with too few tools in play, it only does 100 damage. I take the KO with a Muscle band and Laserbank. From that point on he drew dead, he had a hand of about four energy in a five card hand, and no supporters. He manages to get Pokemon out to keep surviving, but the spread of damage coming from Landorus combined with his dead draws quickly decide the game.
It was sad to have to play against a friend in the finals, also considering the events that occurred. However, at the same time us both making the finals was a great thing in itself.
Summary and final notes
Overall, the two weekends were incredible, even with all the nervousness and everything that was on the line for me! I met a few new friends in Canberra, had a great time meeting up and having fun with pre-existing ones, and managed to win two Regionals back to back. I was ecstatic after both, not only because I had qualified for the World Championships, but these two events were my first Premier event wins/top cuts ever! It felt great to have done it with a fairly unique deck that I’d manage to develop myself, and I have a feeling that my play style suits these types of unique and surprising decks more than standard tier 1 decks (which I’ve played plenty of). A huge shout out and thanks to all the people I played throughout the tournaments, all the people I tested with, all the people who gave me their kind words and congratulations and most of all my family who let me travel interstate and encouraged me through all my tournaments, regardless of the result.
Thanks for reading guys, see you all next time. – Henry!