What is up with it, DDG nation! Nam Kim here (known to most as Kam) with a rundown on my 61st place showing at my 2nd regional tournament this last weekend in Madison, Wisconsin. For those unfamiliar, I am from the depths of North Dakota, playing competitively since January 2016, having a couple of top 8s and a single top 4 in Cities. Not much to brag about, but I’ve come a long way; especially playing Mega Rayquaza almost exclusively the past year and half.
I expected much of the format to slow down due to Garbodor variants having massive success the weekend prior in Seattle. I had changed my mind every single day the week before Madison, and Friday night was no different. I opted to go with what I was comfortable with, even knowing that running into Roadblock Sudowoodo would not go well. Martin Janous’ list impressed me a lot a couple weeks back, and it had the spicy kick of Mew EX and Latios EX for donking potential!
This deck runs 15 items total. a combination of Unown, Dragonite EX, Tapu Lele GX, and Mallow ensures you get the cards you need without piling on the Trashvalanche damage. You can find Sky Field, Mega Turbo, Spirit Link, or anything you can possibly want with Mallow and Farewell Letter. Keeping Unowns on the bench helped immensely, too. If I had to cut my bench size down, I could Farewell Letter to open up a spot for the clutch Shaymin EX or Tapu Lele GX. With that, I’ll go over more specific list choices below.
2 Rayquaza Spirit Link- there came times where I wished I had the third Spirit Link, but for the majority of my matches I would find myself needing to discard a VS Seeker or Mega Turbo instead of one of my two Links anyway. Honestly, two Mega Rays would usually end the game in my favor pretty much every time. I usually don’t need to Link up or fill up my bench right away, so if I go first I’ll just Delta Evolve and end my turn. Two Spirit Links isn’t as bad as it might seem.
2 Mallow- Goodness, this card is amazing in Rayquaza decks! Unown+Dragonite EX/Shaymin EX complement Mallow so well. This Supporter allows you to place any 2 cards from your deck on top. As Rayquaza needs Sky Field, Spirit Link, Mega Turbo, DCE, Ray and Mega Ray to start Emerald Breaking, Mallow makes it nearly a guarantee to hit your last card or 2.
Mew EX/Latios EX- I did not win many games by donking, as most of my opponent’s benched some pokemon or started with a Pokemon with higher HP. However, Mew would prove to be very useful in Round 9, so stay tuned...
1 Field Blower- I chose the Field Blower over Professor Kukui, but preferably I would like to include both in the list, as Kukui nets some important knockouts for donks, or simply take down tanks like Metagross GX.
4 Shaymin EX
3 Rayuaza EX
3 M Rayquaza EX
2 Hoopa EX
2 Tapu Lele GX
2 Dragonite EX
1 Mew EX
1 Latios EX
4 Sky Field
4 Ultra Ball
3 VS Seeker
3 Mega Turbo
2 Rayquaza Spirit Link
2 Float Stone
2 Professor Sycamore
1 Hex Maniac
1 Brock's Grit
1 Field Blower
4 Double Colorless
The Who and How?
Round 1 vs Dakota F. (Volcanion/Turtonator/Salamence) 2-0
I went second in game one, and the only Pokemon in my starting hand was the Latios. Not knowing what Dakota was playing at the time, this seemed to give away my Fast Raiding surprise. However, he flipped over baby Volcanion so it didn't matter anyway. This match didnt really ever get off the ground for Dakota. He dead drew so badly in both games one and two that he didn't even get to play any of his Max Elixirs or take a prize. 1-0-0
Round 2 vs Ethan W. (Tapu Bulu/Lurantis) 2-0
Without Sudowoodo or ability shutdown, the big grassy GX's get rolled over real quick by Mega Ray. Ethan bumped my Sky Field multiple times with Forest of Giant Plants or Field Blower, but I kept renewing my lease on Sky Field and restoring my bench with Dragonite EX, using the Pull-Up ability to return any two combination of Unown, Shaymin, Hoopa, or Lele. I gave him no chance to get into the game by Lysandre'ing out the Bulus he kept trying to power up with Flower Supply. Game two went pretty much the same way. 2-0-0.
Round 3 vs Xander P. (Metagross/Tapu Lele) 2-0
I did not play Professor Kukui so Mega Ray could not knock out Metagross GX with it's hulking 250 hp! Game one went down to the wire as I was left with 1 prize card to his 2. Xander N'ed me to one card and then one of his two Metagross knocked out my last Mega Ray. Luckily, N gave me VS Seeker and I top deck into the 3rd psychic energy I needed for my Tapu Lele GX! I Lysandre'd up his benched Vulpix and used Energy Drive for the win. Game two was nowhere near as exciting, as he started Beldum and could not bench anything turn one or two. I sealed round three with a quick victory. 3-0-0.
Round 4 vs Samuel I. (Espeon GX/Garbodor/Sudowoodo) 0-2
Ah, Sudowoodo. I knew I'd run into one eventually. Its ability Roadblock limits my bench to only four Pokemon,and that space is crucial for playing down Pokemon for extra cards as well as Mega Ray's damage output. Game one was a blur as Samuel started the Sudowoodo. This is when I took my first loss of the tournament. I opted to go first in game two, and he started Trubbish with no bench! It was Mew EX - Fast Raid time! In my hand I had the one Psychic energy, Float Stone to retreat my starter (Unown), and the Hoopa EX. I attach the tool, Scoundrel Ring through my deck, and... I did not find Latios EX in there. After that, game two was also a blur as I had to use too many items trying to take down Espeon GX with Sudowoodo in play. 3-1-0
Round 5 vs Aaron T. (Decidueye/Vileplume/Ninetales)
Aaron started Alolan Vulpix with Oddish and a couple of Rowlets on the bench, and ended his turn with the Vileplume. I don't remember many other details from game one really, but I do remember normal Rayquaza EX using Dragon Pulse for a couple of knockouts as he Beaconed for Alolan Ninetales GX and Decidueye GX. I scooped after I couldn't get much going under item lock.
I needed a quick start, but I decided to simply end my first turn with evolving my active Ray with a DCE attachment. I had Tapu Lele GX, Hoopa EX, and Sky Field in my hand, so I saw no need to rush. Aaron started out okay with two Decidueye GX by the end of his first turn, but thankfully no Vileplume to be seen. My turn two was more eventful, setting up in a flurry of Scoundrel Ring, Wonder Tag for Mallow, searching for an energy to attach to Mega Ray and Spirit Link for the other Ray, drawing the cards through Shaymin, and taking the knockout after getting started on the benched Mega Rayquaza. If I remember correctly, he scooped not long after dealing with two fully loaded behemoths that can take out his big owls with one shot. Unfortunately for me, game three I pretty much dead drew after Aaron N'ed me out of an amazing hand into unplayable cards. 3 owls, Vileplume, and Alolan Ninetales later, I find myself in a 3-2-0 situation.
Round 6 vs Kevin T. (Mega Gardevoir/Tapu Lele/Sudowoodo) 1-0 time
My second Sudowoodo of the day, but I managed to squeeze out the win in game one as Kevin used up most of his resources to look for Mega Gardevoir instead of the Sudowoodo. Game two went to the wire as he immediately got out the Roadblock to limit my bench. I managed to KO it once but it came stomping back courtesy of a Rescue Stretcher. Fortunately for me, time was called and Kevin made the misplay of not discarding his Sudowoodo with the rest of his bench. I gladly Lysandre'd it up so he could not take the last prize on his turn three. The dream was still alive. 4-2-0
Round 7 vs Jordan K. (59 card ditto) 2-1 turn 3 in time
Jordan is a very approachable guy! I enjoyed getting to know him and enjoyed playing him even more because he also decided to play Martin Janous' Mega Rayquaza list, which was used to take the Austrian Open. Game one was very strange as we both filled up our benches quickly but waited on the Lysandre as we each set up our Mega Rays. Jordan even dropped his Tapu Lele GX during Hex, but later he pulled the trigger first, and I scooped as he was set up more than I. Game two I had everything go my way, as everyone knows, declaring Emerald Break every possible turn, especially in the ditto, is vital. Jordan scooped as I took away his last Ray, putting me ahead in the prize exchange and board state. Game three I don't remember much except that we went to time and I needed to get 4 prizes for the win. His set up wasn't perfect, so I took prizes one and two off his last Mega Ray. His turn 2 he Wonder Guarded for Lysandre and brought up my Hoopa EX and passed. Luckily, I had the Olympia in hand to close out the game on turn three. It really could've gone either way, and I'm glad to have met a competitor like Jordan during the last couple rounds. 5-2-0
Round 8 vs Charles K. (Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt/Promo Koko) 2-0
Game one started off terribly for Charles. He went first, leading with promo Tapu Koko, and then attached an energy and passed. I did everything I could to donk him my first turn, but it didn't matter as his turn two came and went without him benching anything. My turn two ended it.
Game two was very interesting. I forgot about Tapu Koko's second attack, which does a base 100 damage, and was horrified to see it take down Mega Ray with Choice Band. I managed to take out the Koko with the combination of renewing Sky Field, Dragonite Pull-up, Mallow, and Unowns to get another Mega Ray ready to go. That left Charles with a Vikavolt and Tapu Bulu GX with one grass energy. He promoted Vikavolt, and Strong Charge only netted him one grass energy to his benched Bulu. He passed and I preyed on the Bulu before it got to do damage. The details escape me as to how the game ended, but I now had the opportunity to make day two at a regional tournament with one more win! 6-2-0
Round 9 vs Aidan K. (Garbodor/Drampa/Sudowoodo) 1-2 turn 3 in time, scoop
First and foremost, Aidan is mature beyond his years for a recently aged-up Master division competitor. It's people like him that I feel make the Pokemon community so cordial and likable, and it was an honor playing against him and ultimately scooping to him at the end of turn 3 after time-in-round was called. His build had some neat techs such as Skyla, Sudowoodo, and Team Rocket’s Handiwork, all of which helped him in our matches.
Game one I remember very little of, but I believe Latios EX Fast Raided his Sudowoodo for a knock out. I played my only Field Blower early, and Garbotoxin Garbodor pretty much sealed the deal. I should have scooped earlier, as this game took a big chunk of our match time.
Game two was a doozy, as I started taking by a quick KO off his starting Trubbish with a Fast Raiding Mew EX. Aidan promoted his second Trubbish, benched Drampa GX and attached an energy to it, and finally playing N to end his turn. Mew used Fast Raid once more while I slowly built up a benched Mega Ray. He couldn't bench anything else down so Drampa dealt 20 damage with Righteous Edge. I retreated the Mew to Mega Ray, filled up my bench to take game two in what must've been less than 5 minutes.
Game 3 we did not get too far before time was called. At the end of turn three after time, Aidan KO'ed my Mega Ray, tying our prize count. A tie would not do either of us any good with our records. His board state was better than mine, (I no longer had attackers end of turn three) and I knew my resistance wasn't all that great anyway, so I circled LOSS and initialed the match slip to punch Aidan into the top 10 starting day two, concluding my best run in a big tournament thus far.
Aidan ended up making top 16 at the end of day two, and I could not been happier. I don't see anyone not liking this guy. He's a good sport and respectful competitor, and I expect his name in top 32s and top 8s in many tournaments ahead. I will do my best to meet him there in the future.
As mentioned before, I would love to add a Professor Kukui into this list in order to knock out the behemoth GX’s, as well as Fast Raid harder. Going 1-2 against Sudowoodo decks isn’t so bad, but that fraudulent tree needs to be addressed quickly if you’re playing Mega Rayquaza. Your opponent loads up an attacker while you use your Supporter for turn on a single prize Pokemon. Maybe I’ll try to add some ability shutdown into the build. Field Blower gets rid of Choice Bands to help save the EX’s and GX’s from certain doom. Skyla did not do too much, but it had its use when I could’ve played Mallow but had no way to draw into the top 2 cards. I did not Tapu Cure once, and I could have in a couple of the games I lost, maybe giving me outs that I did not I have at the time. I lost to both Garbodor variants on day one, and lost to one more in side events the next day, so I am obviously doing something wrong in that particular match-up.
Is Ray the call for Intercontinentals in Indianapolis? It’s always had the potential, but the fact that people don’t need to counter it directly and still do very well against it made me hesitant to play it in Madison in the first place.
As for the tournament itself, Madison Regionals is always greatly run. It’s only been my second regional (with the first being Madison last year) and I had a blast once again. The venue is always pristine. There were plenty of vendors at the convention and tons of restaurants nearby to check out. We were rarely late in rounds(often only 1-2 minutes), and the staff always made themselves available to the public. Just surrounding myself in the Pokemon community makes me feel like I belong, and I applaud Jimmy Ballard and his crew for their new approach to setting standards for premiere events such as this, because it’s been an unforgettable experience. Thank you all.
That wraps it up! I'm glad I was able to pocket some prize money and packs for the long drive back. Indianapolis is less than 4 weeks away, and I will be looking to redeem myself. Madison revealed many answers and raised just as many questions, but the Standard format is alive and well. It’s a great time to play some Pokemon! I gotta go play test, so until next time DDG nation! Me and a couple others will be repping our DDG mats in Indianapolis, so come say hi! See you then.