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Milwaukee Regionals and the Invasion of the “Bad Decks”

As I’m writing this, I’m on my way to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the North American International Championships! While that is exciting, there’s still a lot of preparation to be done for this big tournament, especially as the final Regional Championships of the 2022 season concluded yesterday. The results of the Milwaukee Regional Championships were incredibly surprising when you look at the previous week’s results.

As opposed to Melbourne, Milwaukee had a very diverse group of decks making the Top 8. Quite a few of those decks were dismissed by many players heading into the Astral Radiance format, with both finalists playing decks which were thought to be “bad decks” heading into this event! In this article, I will go over why both decks did so well and how they were positioned to attack Palkia VSTAR, the most dominant deck out of Melbourne. I will also leave with some thoughts to NAIC, as the results of this tournament are incredibly important when considering the metagame for the second International Championships of the year.

 

 

Header - Blissey V

The deck which came second at the Milwaukee Regional Championships was a new deck out of Astral Radiance but was initially dismissed by almost every top player as being a clunky mess: Blissey V!

Blissey V (183/198)

While a lot of Blissey V decks previously tried to make the main partner Miltank ASR, this Blissey V list focused on having Blissey as the main attacker, with a swath of support Pokemon to back it up.

PTCGO Code

4 Blissey V CRE 119
1 Miltank ASR 126
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Dunsparce FST 207
1 Yveltal CEL 19
1 Tornadus BRS 126

Trainer (36)
4 Boss's Orders BRS 132
3 Professor's Research BRS 147
3 Avery CRE 130
2 Marnie CPA 56
2 Zinnia's Resolve EVS 164
1 Roxanne ASR 150
1 Cheren's Care BRS 134
4 Hyper Potion CPA 54
3 Quick Ball FST 237
2 Team Yell Towel SHF 63
2 Switch Cart ASR 154
1 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
4 Cape of Toughness DAA 160
4 Path to the Peak CRE 148

Energy (15)
4 Powerful Colorless Energy DAA 176
4 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151
4 Capture Energy RCL 171
3 Lucky Energy CRE 158

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The whole goal of Blissey V is to build up a mass of Energy on a single Blissey using Blissful Blast and use Cape of Toughness and Hyper Potion to make that Blissy more difficult to knock out. Because Blissful Blast recovers any Energy, you get to play with all the powerful utility Special Energy in the format, like Capture Energy and Powerful Colorless Energy. You are also able to be very stringent with your bench spots, which is a massive advantage against Palkia VSTAR.

There’s a ton of previously unplayed cards in this list! The main aspect of this list I notice is the large number of one-of Pokemon, so let’s get into them. First, while Miltank ASR was the focus of these style of decks initially in the Astral Radiance format, Miltank takes a back seat in this list and appears as only a single copy. I would assume that this is because of the plethora of answers available for Miltank in the current format. A ton of decks play with Inteleon SSH, and almost all of these can easily attack with their Inteleon, which trades very cleanly with Miltank.

Inteleon (058/202)Miltank (126/189)

Palkia VSTAR decks also have a second option to punch through the Miltank in Radiant Greninja. However, Miltank still shines against Arceus VSTAR decks which opted to play Bibarel BRS instead of Inteleon SSH. Bibarel is an extremely weak attacker into Miltank because it must flip a coin to deal damage and doesn’t even take a one hit KO with a heads flip. However, some Arceus/Bibarel decks this weekend played Flying Pikachu VMAX, the attack on which prevents damage dealt to it by basic Pokemon, which is this entire deck.However, another card in this deck presents an efficient answer to Flying Pikachu VMAX.

Flying Pikachu VMAX (007/025)

Tornadus BRS almost doesn’t make any sense in this deck.

Tornadus (126/172)

It has a vanilla attack, and the ability is essentially an Escape Rope, so why would this card see play? The answer is because it efficiently deals with a popular answer card for Blissey V, Eiscue EVS, and happens to deal with Flying Pikachu VMAX.

Eiscue (047/203)

While Escape Rope gets around the effect of Blockface, Tornadus is a searchable way to accomplish this. Because Blockface puts an effect on the Eisucue, if the Eiscue is forced onto the bench then forced back active, it no longer has this effect, and it will take damage from the massive Blissey V. This same sequence also works for Flying Pikachu VMAX, making Tornadus an effective answer to opposing cards trying to answer Blissey V.

While Radiant Greninja is normally used to discard Basic Water Energy, this deck takes advantage of the fact that it discards any Energy, even Special Energy. In this format, there aren’t many ways to get a ton of cards in the discard pile for profit. While we have access to Ultra Ball, it becomes excessive in this deck because you barely need any Pokemon, and this deck already plays Professor’s Research. While you cannot attack with Greninja in this deck, the ability will draw a ton of cards every single game and put Energy directly into the discard pile to fuel Blissful Blast. 

This deck also has Dunsparce FST and Yveltal CEL to round out it’s one-of Pokemon. Dunsparce is a nice option to remove your Weakness to Fighting, it gives you a lot more resilience against the Regigigas deck as well as anyone still playing Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. Yveltal is in this deck to punish a specific play which Mew VMAX will commonly make against you, which is putting all four Fusion Strike Energy into play and taking a one hit KO on everything using Melodious Echo. While Blissey V is incredibly resilient, it isn’t very good at taking aggressive knockouts, which this line from Mew punishes. So Blissey needs to play one copy of Yveltal CEL to shore up the Mew matchup.

Blissey is a solid deck which was very under the radar heading into Milwaukee Regionals. However, the deck which won the whole event was a known quantity but was purposely disrespected by most of the player base.

 

Header - Arceus / Duraludon

After getting second at Brisbane Regionals right in the beginning of the season, Arceus / Duraludon all but disappeared off the face of the earth for the rest of the Brilliant Stars format. The deck has inherent strengths; you already have a decent Mew and Arceus VSTAR matchup thanks to preventing Special Energy. However, Arceus / Duraludon has made a small resurgence with the release of Astral Radiance because it can function off a small bench and has high HP, similar aspects to Blissey, which made it strong against Palkia. Both decks also had a significant healing focus with both playing several copies of Hyper Potion and Duraludon even playing Crystal Cave over Collapsed Stadium! So, let’s go over the deck which won Milwaukee Regionals.

PTCGO Code

Pokémon (12)
4 Arceus V BRS 122
2 Arceus VSTAR BRS 123
2 Duraludon V CPA 47
3 Duraludon VMAX EVS 123
1 Eldegoss V CPA 5

Trainer (35)
4 Professor's Research BRS 147
4 Boss's Orders BRS 132
3 Marnie CPA 56
1 Single Strike Style Mustard BST 134
1 Bird Keeper DAA 159
4 Quick Ball FST 237
4 Ultra Ball BRS 150
3 Pokégear 3.0 SSH 174
2 Hyper Potion CPA 54
2 Switch SSH 183
1 Evolution Incense SSH 163
2 Big Charm SSH 158
4 Crystal Cave EVS 144

Energy (13)
6 Metal Energy BRS M
4 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151
3 Fighting Energy BRS F
 

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Overall, this is a very standard-looking Arceus / Duraludon deck from last format with some minor adjustments made. Playing zero copies of neither Avery or Collapsed Stadium was a very interesting call, however it makes sense to prioritize healing your Duraludon VMAX instead of focusing on disruption with the high count of basic Pokemon present right now. There is one card in this list which was nowhere to be seen in Arceus / Duraludon lists before, which was Eldegoss V.

Eldegoss V (176/192)Lumineon V (156/172)

While playing Eldegoss V is a massive risk in this deck since it’s so important to open with an Arceus V, having consistent access to Boss’s Orders in the late game is a very powerful effect. However, I am slightly confused as to why Eldegoss is played over Lumineon V. They both fill the same role in this deck, but Lumineon also can grab out Single Strike Mustard if needed. I think the reason to include Eldegoss over Lumineon is that this deck can easily attack with Eldegoss and remove it from play, but the same thing is not doable with a Lumineon. There is also a one-of Bird Keeper in this list, which seems very useful for letting you switch into an Arceus VSTAR and attack with it on turn two if you didn’t start with an Arceus V.

There isn’t much else to discuss with this Arceus / Duraludon list, aside from what I have mentioned, but it seems like it was focused on consistency and healing the Duraludon VMAX once it’s set up and this resulted in it winning Milwaukee Regionals.

 

Header - NAIC Metagame

While the metagame looking simple after Melbourne Regionals, Milwaukee has complicated everything. However, it still seems clear that Palkia is the strongest deck in the format. A lot of the decks in the Top 8 of Milwaukee were focused on having a strong strategy into Palkia, with Arceus / Duraludon and Blissey functioning off two Pokemon in play and Arceus / Inteleon also being able to function off a low bench and use Cheren’s Care to heal.

The fact that several Palkia decks still did well into this metagame is a testament to the deck’s inherent strength. However, at NAIC, I would expect the format to become even more hostile to Palkia. Avery is currently a very powerful card in decks like Blissey or Arceus / Duraludon and I would expect it to see significantly more play in Columbus.

Avery (211/198)

Decks with multiple copies of Avery have a serious chance of just running opposing Palkia decks out of basic Pokemon and severely limiting their damage output throughout the game. With a high popularity of Avery and with two Arceus / Duraludon VMAX in Top 8, I would expect the Regigigas deck to fall or just not do well. A lot of cards which counter Palkia incidentally also counter Regigas as Avery and Collapsed Stadium are both backbreaking for a Regigigas player. The Regigigas deck is also completely unable to attack into Duraludon VMAX, which makes that matchup completely impossible to win. Mew VMAX is in an interesting position – while you probably don’t need to play Pokemon Catcher anymore, you do likely need to play Echoing Horn for the Arceus / Duraludon matchup. Echoing Horn also has some nice utility against the Palkia and Arceus matchups which cannot be ignored. 

Overall, Milwauke Regionals is a tournament which is going to force us to respect many more decks. Arceus / Duraludon and Blissey thrived on the player base disrespecting them and their options, and you likely will see the opposite at NAIC. While I don’t know what deck will win the tournament, previous trends usually say that something which is under the radar might make a comeback, like Arcues / Duraludon did last weekend. Good luck if you’re going to the event, I’ll be there so feel free to say hi!

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