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First Impression of the New Expanded Format: A Top 32 Regionals Report

Enrique Avila

 

Introduction

Hello Dead Draw readers! My name is Enrique Avila and I am the newest member on the DDG team!

First and foremost, I would like to thank the owners of Dead Draw for this amazing opportunity that is allowing me to play this game again. For those that don’t know I was a very active player in the 2014-2015, and 2015-2016 season. In those two seasons, I got second place at U.S Nationals piloting the infamous Wailord EX deck. On top of that I got 8th,3rd, and 2nd at three state championships, top 32d numerous regionals and received 9th at another. I received World’s invites for both seasons and finished in the top 64 in 2016 thanks to a Mega Sceptile deck that ruined my dreams with Greninja. I am back to compete after taking a year hiatus due to school, mere lack of interest in the game, and personal barriers that prevented me from playing last season. I honestly could not be more excited!

The Brew

 I attended Ft. Wayne regionals last weekend and took Seismitoad EX/Golisopod GX to a 22nd    place finish.  Here is the list that Cody Walinksi and I built with our crew, and piloted to 10th and 22nd places respectively.

4 Wimpod BS

3 Golispod GX BS

1 Golispod SUM

3 Seismitoad EX FFI

2 Tapu Lele GX GRI

1 Dedenne FFI

1 Sudowood GRI

1 Shaymin EX ROS

1 Keldeo EX LTR

 

4 Professor Sycamore

2 N

1 Teammates

1 Ghetsis

2 Guzma

2 Acerola

1 Hex Maniac

1 Karen

4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

1 Computer Search

2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

4 Float Stone

3 Choice Band

 

4 Double Colorless

6 Grass

 

While testing for Ft. Wayne we knew that the three decks to beat were Trevenant, Turbo Darkrai, and Night March. We tried out numerous decks but to no avail. Then Cody built a Golisopod GX/Hypnotoxic Laser deck, and we were hooked. Through extensive play testing the week before we came to the final list. I will go over the card choices, possible inclusions/exclusions, and why the decision to play certain cards/counts were made.

3 Seismitoad EX: Golisopod GX was chosen due to its simplicity and ability to control the pace of the game due to its aggressive attacks for low energy costs. This makes it a perfect fit for Garbodor GRI in the standard format. Garbodor punishes opponents for over extending, which Golisopod GX forces opponents to do because of its massive HP and single energy attack cost. However, we are not big fans of Garbodor. The inclusion of another 4-4 stage one line makes the deck much less consistent and consistency is key at events of this size and caliber. I personally would rather have less options to make sure my deck can optimize its core strategy. With the removal of Garbodor we needed another partner that could control the pace of the game. This brought us to our old, faithful pal Seismitoad EX. Instead of punishing overextension, why not prevent it? Seismitoad allowed us to set up multiple, high HP attackers while applying the perfect math to take KO’s with Golisopod when we decided to break the item lock. This card is inherently strong against Turbo Darkrai, and made Night March a positive matchup in combination with Karen. The choke hold it puts on the game was too valuable the entire weekend.

1 Golispod SUM: One word. Beast. This card was a juggernaut and won me many games. It is a 130 HP non-ex with an ability that reduces 30 damage. With a choice band, it hits 180 for a grass and two colorless energy. This card was included because of its importance in the Turbo Darkrai matchup. Generally, against this matchup one KO would be taken with Seismitoad EX while you power up a Cross Cut GX and this bad boy on the bench to hit 180 consecutively to close out the game. If the opponent can’t respond KO the Non-EX, he sweeps games or effectively takes 4 prizes. Everyone who piloted our list loved this card.

1 Dedenne: This attacker is the biggest head scratcher on our list, but he turned out to be spicy and useful. This card was included because of HO-OH GX. Traditional Volcanion would just use one HO-OH and run through our Seismitoad. Dedenne with a choice band OHKO’s Ho-oh and solves this issue with a single energy attachment. It hits Mega Rayquaza for 180 and if they are forced to commit two double colorless, it one shots. Dedenne also is a solid non-ex attacker to setup chip damage for Golispod GX. Its first attack is vital as well. In games where a turn 1 quaking punch was whiffed I would use entrainment to place 2 basics on my bench and advance my board state.

1 Sudowoodo: Sudowoodo is vital tech card that I cannot see myself not playing while it is legal. The ability to control your opponents bench is an invaluable tool. It allowed us to smash Mega Rayquaza, and was valuable against turbo Darkrai as well.

 

1 Ghetsis: MVP. Ghetsis stole me games that were close throughout the tournament. Taking away opponents VS seekers allowed this deck to get ahead, if it wasn't already. The main inclusion for it was for its pseudo-quaking punch and control utility. Against decks, specifically Turbo Dark, our strategy was to Quaking punch over and over until we could use Golispod to close out games. Turbo Dark had the ability to re-explode and respond to a Golisopod easily, which is where Ghetsis came into the clutch. When the quaking punch lock was about to be broken, I would apply a timely Ghetsis, and strip away their power to re-explode and cruise to victory.

 

2 Guzma/2 Acerola: The role of these cards and their counts was to guarantee first impressions. First impression is Golispod GX’s attack for a single grass that hits for 120 damage when he comes off the bench. The constant ability to switch actives allowed Golispod to keep up its pressure. 2 Acerola is also amazing with Seismitoad. It was very feasible to Quaking Punch for 60 the entire game and win due to the ability to pick it up and lay it back down for no cost. If anything, I would increase one of these counts for the mirror match.

4 Float Stone: After playing a deck with 4 float stone I don’t know how I can go back. I never had wasted turns with something stuck in my active position due to the ability to constantly be retreating. 4 Float stone was imperative for optimizing the first impression strategy.

6 Grass Energy/No energy recovery: This count sketched me out at first, but once we played the deck extensively we realized it was not needed. We originally had 7 grass but due to Acerola constantly recycling energies it was found no recovery was necessary. Many games I sycamored away 2-3 energy and was still in a dominant position.

Exclusions:

Fan Club: This card was very wanted and would have been useful for me because I played multiple mirror matches. However, it was unwarranted because most games we quaking punched long enough to set up behind it and the immediate Wimpod spam was not needed. We also did not expect Golispod to be as popular as it was. Had we known mirrors were in our future, we would have included this card.

Rock Guard: This sounds terrible, but believe me when I say this card is incredible with Acerola. Quaking Punching and abusing rock guard by recycling it with Acerola was infuriating to play against. However, we let our moment of being terrible subside and opted for consistency with computer search since Quaking punch with choice band was more than sufficient.

Giritina Promo: Throughout testing we decided to just take a loss to Trevenant to fit in cards to optimize our list and its consistency. Unfortunately, one of these cards cut to do so was Giritina. In tandem with fan club, it made Trev much more manageable due to first impression OHKOing stage 1 Trevenant, and giving us access to items when break evolved. Even with its inconclusion however, we found ourselves still tying the deck because Trevenant can pull off shenanigans with Necrozma GX and energy hate. Due to this, we took the loss and moved on with our lives

Hypnotoxic Lasers/Virbank City: This was in our original list and seemed like an obvious pairing. It allowed Golispod to OHKO for 180 and allowed Toad to be more oppressive. However, after testing we never seemed to have all the combos together and just clunked the deck.

Matchup Overview and Strategies:

Turbo Darkrai: Favorable

Against this matchup, you go Seismitoad early. If they are not OHKOing turn one, you are in good shape. Quaking Punch for 60 and Acerola are you best friends until you can pull off the Ghetsis and first impression combo. If this strategy goes south the baby Golispod puts in mad work. I went 3-0 versus this matchup at the tournament.

Night March: Very Favorable

Quaking Punch. Karen. 210 HP. Easy money. 0-0-1

Mega Rayquaza: Very Favorable

Ghetsis. Quaking Punch. Sudowoodo. Sign and circle win. 1-0-0

Trevenant: Unfavorable

Like every matchup for Trevenant, it depends on how you draw your cards. In general, you lose because the item lock in tandem with the energy hate takes its toll. 1-0-0

Traditional Volcanion: Very Favorable

This matchup is very free. You quaking punch the Volcanion EX’s for two shots and then you OHKO the HO-OH with dedenne. 0-0-0

Raikou Eels: Very Favorable

This matchup is played like you do with any deck. You KO a Raikou in tandem with Hex and get ahead so they can’t recover. This matchup never beat us during testing. 0-0-0

Gardevoir: Unsure

In testing we could not really beat this deck without serious amount of luck. But, in the tournament everyone beat a Gardy if they played against it. The strategy is to run down the Ralts early and if possible, finish off KO’s with a Quaking Punch or Hex to prevent the re-explosion. 1-0-0

Golispod Mirror: Unfavorable

We did not really expect this matchup, so we did not prepare for it. In this matchup, if you start Seismitoad or Keldeo its pretty rough, and you already have an uphill battle. Mirror matches are generally facing higher counts of Guzma and Acerola as well, which makes them better at the Golispod strategy. I would include fan club in a future tournament specifically to help the mirror match. I would possibly drop down to two Seismitoad as well, but no less than that because it is an integral part of this specific archetype of Golispod. 0-1-2

Espeon/Drampa Garb: Very Favorable

This matchup was quite simple. Keldeo prevents confusion so you simply out hit them the entire game and take control quite early. Seismitoad early is always smart and Keldeo online with Seismitoad and Acerola creates a big hurdle for them. 1-0-0

Yveltal: Favorable

We tested this a bit and had zero issues. One energy and 210 HP makes it quite difficult for Yveltal to get there on a Golispod. They are also punished by Dedenne if they super stack an Yveltal for OHKOs. 0-0-0 

The Tournament:

I walked into this tournament quite confident in my deck choice for Day 1 and ready to compete.

Day 1

Round 1 VS Yoshi Tate (Seismitoad/ Golisopod GX/Zoroark/Turtonator GX)

This was a disgusting round 1 pairing as Yoshi worked on the deck with us and, it's always annoying having to play friends round 1. He had Turtonator GX and fan club which made the mirror much better on paper for him.  Game 1 I could keep my bench small and optimize the Golispod strategy more effectively with Guzmas and Acerolas. Game 2 I had awkward draws and was playing much slower than I should. This was real awkward when I ended up losing the game. Game 3 Barely started and time was called so we drew. 0-0-1

Round 2 VS Isaac Bunker (Mega Rayquaza)

This round was over quickly. Sudowoodo and Dedenne put in their work early and I was able to walk away with a swift 2-0. 1-0-1

Round 3 VS Cody Barta (Golispod/Garbodor Mirror)

This matchup was like round one. I won game 1 by playing more efficiently and watching my items instead of bench space. Game 2 I again was playing slower and ended up losing and thus we tied. Lesson learned on this day one of my first tournament back to keep playing quickly. Tying does nothing but fluster me, especially when its preventable. 1-0-2

Round 4 VS Cody Leigh (Turbo Darkrai)

Heading into this matchup, I was very annoyed. I knew that I could not afford to lose for the rest of the day. I tried to relax and take it one round at a time. Cody flipped over Darkrai and I knew I could at least get this win with a positive matchup. These games went according to plan. I quaking punched early, dropped Sudowoodo, and cleaned up with both Golisopods. 2-0-2

Round 5 Vs Gregory Fearing (Drampa Garb)

Another positive matchup thankfully. Game 1 I quaking punched my way to victory as he could not draw a valuable supporter and I had basic energies on my Seismitoad. Game 2 Baby Golisopod got online really early and took my last 4 prizes quickly. 3-0-2

Round 6 VS Kyle Malacek (Turbo Darkrai)

Unfortunately, this round was against another friend, and he was playing a favorable matchup. Game 1 he was hitting 150 on turn one. I could not hit any of my healing cards and got smashed quickly as Turbo Dark likes to do. Game 2 and Game 3 went similar. I applied the Seismitoad lock and kept healing them over and over and cleaned up with the Baby Golispod. Game 3 I had a very fortunate Guzma top deck to seal out the game. 4-0-2

Round 7 VS Johan Couveignes (Trevenant)

First and foremost, this guy was one of the coolest people I have met in the community. Second, I was upset when he flipped over Phantump after winning the coin flip, as I saw my dream of topping slip away. He got the turn 1 item lock and red carded away my fantastic hand just to add salt to the wound. To his misfortune, I had the luck to draw the perfect combination. I drew 2 grass energies, toad, and a Shaymin on my red card to 4. I setup for 3 cards and drew Hex Maniac, Computer Search, and a double colorless energy. I turn 1 Quaking punched and grabbed a supporter for next turn. From this point on he had to dig to keep up as Golisopod was online. He eventually ran out of Trevenant and I won game 1 miraculously. Game 2 He started lone Jirachi and passed. I respond with a Quaking punch for 60 and close out the series as he drew a computer search with his next card. 5-0-2

Round 8 VS Will Stevens (Gardevoir GX)

I was very nervous for this round due to getting destroyed by Gardevoir the night before in testing and Game 1 started in utter disaster. I was down 0-4 within the first few turns and had no answer to his Gardevoir that was destroying my field. I Nd and first impressioned, and then continued doing this for 4 consecutive turns which messed up his premonitions with Gallade and he was not drawing out of the Ns. The 4 N’s in a row got me right back into the game. I also would finish KO’s with Quaking punch which really hurt his responses. At one point, he had one prize left and I Nd him. Then the next turn, I followed up with a Karen to clog his deck with 13 more useless Pokémon. This was enough for me to seal the game. Game 2 I was hyper aggressive. I computer searched away 2 VS seeker for a Guzma to KO a ralts on turn 2 and it paid off. My early aggression and quaking punches allowed me to have a superior board state and respond to any Gardevoir GX that hit the field. This was an excellent series and a great way to seal up my top cut berth. 6-0-2

Round 9 VS Zach Lesage (Turbo Darkrai)

This was a 250-dollar intentional draw. It was not worth playing it out and possible losing and bubbling out of top cut. 6-0-3 

Day 2: The Grind

Round 10 VS Michael Pramawat (Night March)

I was very excited for this matchup as it was the first Night March I saw the entire tournament and it was quite free assuming you drew a DCE and could Karen. Game 1 I did just that. I played around his Tauros GX as long as possible and kept a quaking punch lock the entire game. Game 2, I could not draw a double to save my life and got ran over. Game 3 Karen was my last prize and I had to play very defensively due to this. I was taking prizes hoping I drew and could seal the game, but that was to no avail. We ended up going to a tie because I Acerola’d his opportunity to win after time was called. Great games with Pram and congrats on the 6th regional win!

6-0-4

Round 11 VS Jimmy Pendarvis (Sableye Garbodor)

I did not expect this matchup and was not prepared for it. Game 1 I played horribly. I was playing very aggressively to lock him out of utilizing the Sableye lock and I realized I made a huge mistake. Sableye gained trashalanche which really punishes what I was doing. He was hitting way too hard and I scooped. Game 2 I played much more conservatively and was able to quaking punch and ghetsis my way to victory. Game 3 was like game 2 but my Quaking punch was much more devastating. He was forced to sycamore a few turns in a row and before we knew it he was low on cards. I noticed his N was in the discard pile and realized I could win via deck out with quaking punch. I held on to the lock, played quickly unlike US nationals 2015, and decked him out right before time was called. 7-0-4

Round 12 VS Brandon Salazar (Turbo Dark)

I was hyped to have another positive matchup in day 2. This round went similar to the round with Kyle day 1. I got nuked game 1 and could not keep up. Games 2/3 I applied a Toad choke hold and never let go. I cleaned up the games with Golisopod to a solid 8-0-4 record.

Round 13 VS Zamora (Mirror)

Destroyed. That’s all I really have to say about this round. His deck had higher counts of cards beneficial in mirrors and had gone 8-1 in mirror matches all tournament long. He 2-0d me really quickly. 8-1-4

Round 14 VS Ryan Sabelhaus (Turbo Turtonator)

The second bad matchup in a row, and another destruction for me. There was not much I could realistically do in this matchup besides get very lucky. Cody got destroyed the day before by Sam Chen piloting the same 60 as Ryan and Rahul Reddy. Game 1 he smashed me. Game 2 he dead drew and I had a top deck from god to win the game. Game 3 he got a muscle band on Turtonator and had a powered-up Ho-oh that swept me really quickly. With that and two bad matchups in a row the top 8 dream was dead. 8-2-4

Round 15 VS Igor Costa (Sableye Garb)

He was piloting the same 60 as Pendarvis and I was not happy about having to play this matchup again. Game 1 he slaughtered me. Game 2 I turn one Ghetsis his entire hand away and quaking punched. Game 3 he had the perfect Sableye lock going. He was controlling my top deck and was hitting all my supporters, VS seekers, and doubles off of Team Rockets Handiwork and trick shovel. Time was called and there was no way he could win. I realized there was no way I could win this game if we had time and a tie knocked us both out of top 16 points. I gave him the gentlemen concession as he was great to play against and simply had me beat.

8-3-4. 22nd place.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the tournament despite the unfortunate ending to my last 3 rounds. I am quite happy to have represented Team DDG in my first major tournament back and to have played against such a grind of high caliber opponents Day 2. I am thoroughly excited for this season as my friend group is together again. When we work together you get Wailord, Greninja, and now Toad Golisopod all placing well at high caliber events. Thank you for reading and hopefully I’ll see you at a tournament soon!



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