The Fincastle Gym has hosted back to back weekends of competitive events at its home base in the metropolis of Fincastle. Two Sundays ago, the Gym held a VG Premier Challenge, gathering a good showing of skilled players. Masters battled it out over 4 rounds and then cut to a top 2 to determine the champion of the event. This past Sunday, the Gym hosted its 3rd League Challenge of the season. Our cast of regulars were joined by some Juniors and Seniors players making their 1st appearance in Fincastle. The current Standard Format has proved to be just that, pretty standard, as the decks present provided no surprises. Gym Leader Joel tried to shake up the match-ups (with no avail) and unfortunately for 1 player, altered the results.
Let’s go back to the weekend of the 27th and look at how the VG event played out. Ridge R took 1st place in the Junior Division. Georgia took the top prizes in the Senior Division, only losing once along the way to Masters expert Eric A. The Masters group, despite being a relatively small group, seems to have developed into a very skilled group of players. Gym Leaders Logan and Noah only picked up 2 wins between them, as they came up short in several close matches. Gym Leader Dean, despite a strong day, landed 1 spot short of the Top 2 playoff, as his tie-breaker resistance was less than 5 percentage points behind Gym Leader Joel (whuuuuuutttt….).
Gym Leader Joel has been able to surprise multiple players in this Legendary-heavy format with his max-speed, “Thunder Punch” Primal Groudon. His favorite combo has been to partner it with a “Helping Hand” from Cressilia. While Cressilia did not join the team on this day, “Thunder Punch” proved vital in his undefeated run into the last round against Joseph C. Round 4 flipped the script, however, as Joseph swept his team with little difficulty. Tie-breakers landed Joel in the top 2 for a rematch against Joseph.
Having already seen each other’s teams and now being faced with a best 2 of 3 battle, both players tried to mix things up for the opening round and were apparently thinking along the same lines, as they both opened with Gengar/Xerneas. The speed advantage went to Joseph, as he nuked Joel’s opening pair and then took control of Game 1 for the win. Joel tried to out-guess him in Game 2, but we believe that Joseph is just a little more crafty than our Gym Leader, as Joel could not counter his calls, falling for the 3rd time in a row (as a side note of props, Joseph C competed in the 2016 Worlds in his last year in the Senior Division and is now a Master). The event will be the last held at the Gym in the ORAS format, as our next VG event will be under the Sun/Moon rules in 2017 (date TBA).
On to this past Sunday. As we stated earlier, the “standard” line-up consisted of Volcanion, Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor, “Rainbow Road”, Scizor/Garbodor and Mega Gardevoir among the tops decks. Gym Leader Joel tried to shake things up with an updated Greninja list, thinking that it could handle Garbodor (with a few techs), dominate Volcanion and play even against anything else. Abilities played no role in a round 1 loss to Patrick C with Scizor/Garbodor, as Greninja did what it does every so often… not set up at all. Despite going down 4 prizes before unleashing its onslaught in round 2 against Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor, Joel still was 1 turn away from a comeback sweep, something most who “know” would say is not possible in this match-up (a heavier line of “Faded Town” would have easily fixed this). Joel’s reward for this loss was a round 3 match-up against Mega Sceptile, a match-up that even he would say is un-winnable with Greninja. Joel took 4 prizes off of non-Mega Sceptile targets, but the easy 1-hits are too much for Greninja to weather. Joel wrapped up the day with a smooth sweep over our league’s most unique deck, one that cannot stand the sniping from Greninja, but an amazing idea nonetheless (more on that deck later). So, a 1-4 record for Greninja on the day likely will back up most player’s thoughts on the deck at the moment… that this format counters Greninja too much for it to be playable. We not sold on that as a fact, but will agree that it is an up-hill struggle at the moment for the shuriken throwing amphibian.
The benefactor of Joel’s 1-4 record was Richard L, as he claimed 1st place by way of the tie-breaker after narrowly defeating Patrick C in the last round. Joel’s record pulled down Patrick’s resistance, landing him in 3rd place after a dominating day. Gym Leader Logan slipped into the 2nd place slot in the pack of 3-1 record players and Phil N claimed 4th place. The top 2 finishers (only ones earning CP’s) in Seniors were Isiah B in 1st and Robbie F in 2nd. Miciah H claimed the 1st Place slot in Juniors, with Lucas H taking 2nd Place.
Here a look at the Greninja list Joel put together:
- 4 – Talonflame (STS 96)
- 1 – Minccino (FCO 86)
- 3 – Froakie (BKP 38)
- 4 – Frogadier (BKP 39)
- 4 – Greninja (BKP 40)
- 3 – Greninja BREAK (BKP 41)
- 3 – N
- 2 – Professor Sycamore
- 2 – Ace Trainer
- 1 – Lysandre
- 1 – Skyla
- 1 – Teammates
- 1 – Fisherman
- 2 – Rough Seas
- 1 – Faded Town
- 4 – VS Seeker
- 1 – Super Rod
- 2 – Rare Candy
- 1 – Ultra Ball
- 2 – Level Ball
- 4 – Dive Ball
- 3 – Bursting Balloon
- 9 – Water Energy
- 1 – Splash Energy
As tight as most Mega Mewtwo (MM2) decks are on space, they typically run a small Garbodor line and 2-3 “Float Stone”. If you play Greninja conservatively at first, getting as many ready as you can while you weather KO’s from MM2, the typical player feels free to just set 1 Garbodor, thinking they got you jammed up (as portrayed all over the face of my round 2 opponent). That face quickly turns from joy to panic when you bench Minccino, attach and knock off their “Float Stone”, freeing up your gang of Greninja. 1 copy of Minccino seems to be enough, as you can use “Super Rod” to get it again if needed. Any experienced Greninja player knows how quickly you can turn a game around once this begins.
The biggest problem that we see facing this deck is always getting it started. The 4 copies of Talonflame are the accepted solution to this problem. Over this event, I started Talonflame in 2 of the 4 games (the win and the close game in Rd 2). Setting this deck obviously becomes more tedious without it. What’s more tedious to me is the constant resurfacing of unusable Talonflame into your hand in games where you do not start with it. This is what we’d like to change in this list: replace the 4 Talonflame with 2 Mewtwo (EVO 51) and 2 DCE. The 6 energy required for a MM2 to one-hit an energy-less Greninja BREAK screams out for a regular Mewtwo to hit the field and one shot that beefy MM2 and all of that energy. The trick is of course altering the build to increase the set-up consistency with no Talonflame to help out. We have not tried this change, but feel this would more than even this match-up and improve its chances with the likes of Yveltal/Garbodor and Scizor/Garbodor. If you mess around with this list and determine that Talonflame is absolutely necessary, then cards such as “Bursting Balloon” could be dropped in conjunction with altering the number of energy cards to allow the 4 card change.
This, of course, leaves the Mega Sceptile match-up, which we still feel is one that you play for a turn or 2 (to see how capable your opponent is), see if they get set up and demonstrate some skill with the deck, scoop the game and go get lunch. Being hit for weakness and the presence of the Mega’s “Theta Stop” (Ancient Trait that prevents the effects of any abilities, ie: “Giant Water Shuriken”). Draw what conclusions you will, perhaps Greninja has no place in this format. We definitely would agree that it would be a gamble to play at a large event. However, if the match-ups aligned in a player’s favor, we still think it could sneak up on the field.
Iain M is the creator of the most enjoyable/frustrating deck of our last 2 League Challenges. His creations always have us shaking our heads, until you play them… and want to shake his head. I’ve lost games to him at league and walked away from the table still not comprehending how I lost. That’s what we feel makes this game fun. With his permission (for which we will beg at league this Sunday) we will showcase Iain’s deck here soon. If we can catch him in the right mood, we may even be able to get some future ideas out of him as well. We shall see.
We are back to normal league time and functions this Sunday, 12/11/16. We hope to have another 1st to report on, as we plan to battle our 1st 5 year old (nickname pending) in a Gym Leader Challenge. Eddie is an amazing kid, and if you ever meet him, you’ll understand us when we say that Eddie cannot receive a good nickname without 1st consulting with Eddie. We also feel that Eddie is probably the most deserving of an awesome nickname of anyone we have ever met, so we want to make sure we get this one right. See you at the Gym!