“Croaking the Competition” – A Top 4 Illinois States Report

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After the reveal of Greninja BREAK, there was plenty of hype surrounding the card, and why not? It has 170 HP, a great Ability, synergy with the existing Greninja XY, and the same strategy of the somewhat similar “snipe” decks using Crobat PHF. There was also plenty of doubt though – how could a Stage 3 (essentially) be viable in a format where we don’t even see Stage 2’s do well? Many, myself included, set out to make it work.

While I was preparing for Winter Regionals, I had my girlfriend test Greninja – as soon as BKP was released, she started with version 1.0. After Winter Regionals, I picked up where she left off. Between the two of us we had put in countless hours on testing both online and in person. Some of the lists tested included Octillery BKT (both a 1-1 and a 2-2 line), different counts of Shaymin-EX, Ultra Ball, Dive Ball, Battle Compressor, Trainers’ Mail, and we even included at one point Manaphy PCL. In the end, after dozens of changes in cards and counts, we had a winner.

The Tournament: Illinois States

Pokémon: 15Trainers: 36Energy: 9
4 Froakie (BKP 38)
4 Frogadier (BKP 39)
1 Greninja (XY 41)
3 Greninja (BKP 40)
2 Greninja BREAK (BKP 41)
1 Shaymin-EX (ROS 77)
4 Professor Sycamore
2 Skyla
2 Wally
1 Lysandre
1 Xerosic
1 Ace Trainer
1 Fisherman
1 Hex Maniac

1 Rough Seas
1 Silent Lab

4 VS Seeker
3 Trainers' Mail
3 Dive Ball
2 Muscle Band
2 Buddy-Buddy Rescue
2 Battle Compressor
1 Ultra Ball
1 Rare Candy
1 Energy Retrieval
1 Sacred Ash
1 Professor's Letter
7 Water
2 Splash

Day One

At the start of the day, I joked that all I needed to do to get Top 8 was play bad players all day. Little did I know what awaited me.

Round 1: Austin Bentheimer: Night March/Vespiquen – Win

Games 1 and 2 went pretty well for both of us. Each of our decks ran well. Unfortunately for Austin, Two Greninja were in play, and I was able to take multiple prizes a turn to his 1. I took games 1 and 2.

Round 2: Christopher Headlee: Garchomp – Win

I’m pretty sure I made an audible sigh of relief when Christopher flipped over a Gible in game 1. Garchomp cannot win this matchup after the Greninja are out. My opponent struggled to take KO’s due to Garchomp’s limited damage to non-EXs. I took games 1 and 2 convincingly, but I would like to congratulate Christopher for piloting his Garchomp deck to obtain a Top 8 finish.

Round 3: Ross Cawthon: Night March – Tie

Playing Ross was something. Game 1 I prized 2 Frogadier, so I made the bold move of playing Rare Candy on my lone Froakie and KO’ing his only Attacker with a DCE attached. Ross made quick work of the Greninja the turn after. Game 2 was a real game, Ross took an early prize lead while I set up. After multiple Greninja started hitting the board, the match went much like my match with Austin. Taking multiple prizes a turn gave me the win. Game 3 was looking like it was going to go my way, until time was called. I would like to congratulate Ross for moving on to win it all on day 2.

Round 4: Andrew Schapp: Greninja – Win

The Greninja mirror was one of my matchups that I was most confident in. While most list run 2 Greninja XY and 2 Greninja BKP, my list ran 3 of the latter. In my testing, I found that whoever whiffs a “Shadow Stitching” will lose. This proved true in this match as I took both games 1 and 2. Andrew moved on to finish in the Top 16 despite his list being relatively untested, I look forward to seeing what he does with Greninja in the future.

Round 5: Matt Marusik: Manectric-EX/Garbodor – Win

There’s nothing worst that being paired up against one of your testing partners. Matt and I had played this matchup out multiple times; the results were usually a trade back and forth with the matchup being more in his favor. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than skilled. Matt dead drew pretty hard on game 1 and I was able to take it pretty quickly. He took game 2, and I took game 3. In this matchup the key card of this deck becomes Xerosic. While his Manectric-EX would struggle to take KO’s from Greninja, I would set myself up to have an explosive turn once I could remove the tool from Garbodor. One of the reasons I lost game 2 was because Xerosic was prized. While I was glad to come up with the win, there’s nothing worse than having to take down a homie.

Round 6: Ryan Aquilino: Night March/Vespiquen – Loss

It had to happen eventually – I dead drew pretty hard against Ryan. I somehow struggled to draw any energy on game 1 and struggled to draw into any of my Greninja on game 2. Ryan took the set convincingly and went on to finish in the Top 16, bubbling out of top 8.

Round 7: Broedy Hindertake: Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX – Win

Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX is a pretty good matchup for Greninja, mainly because the deck struggles to deal enough damage. While toad would slow down my set up, as soon as I got setup it was game over. On game 1 Broedy managed to take a 4 prize lead while I set up, and on game 2 he managed to take a 3 prize lead. After Greninja were out, he was unable to continue taking prizes and Seismitoad-EX was vastly outclassed. When he attacked with Giratina-EX, I was able to use items and put my Water Shuriken to use to take multiple prizes. I managed to take both games to make cut.

At the end of day one my opponents had a 71.43% win percentage, the highest of anyone in the Top 8. Two of my day one opponents were in the Top 8, and two more made Top 16.


 

Day Two

Top 8: Cody Walinski: Wailord-EX – Win

I was pretty nervous knowing that my Top 8 opponent was Cody playing Wailord-EX. My original game plan: 2 Giant Water Shuriken + Water Shuriken + Muscle Band + Moonlight Slash = 250 Damage. Alex Hill wisely messaged me before my match and suggested that I not over extend, and only use moonlight slash to chip at my opponent and punish any whiffs in healing. That game plan worked out great! Both game 1 and 2 I used Water Duplicates for only one additional Frogadier, and evolved both Frogadier into Greninja BKP. Any turn that Cody failed to heal a Wailord-EX, I would take 2 prizes. Cody had some very clever techs in his list, and I look forward to seeing him do so well again with this list in the future.

Top 4: Stephen Matz: Night March/Vespiquen- Loss

My run came to an end in my match with Stephen. Game 1 I got donked. Game 2, my deck worked and I was able to take it convincingly. In game 3, I struggled to draw into any Energy for multiple turns and Stephen took the set.


 

BREAKing the Mold

12 one of Trainers: that’s not something you see every day. An unconventional deck requires an unconventional list, I tried testing a more “consistent” build which followed the Standard format mold of Trainers and found it wanting. After posting my list on Virbank City, and reading plenty of confused comments of “Why this? Why that?” my confidence in my list was reaffirmed. I believe most people that are testing Greninja, essentially a Stage 2 in a meta where even Stage 2’s are too slow, aren’t willing to leave behind the Standard format mold of what Trainers a deck “needs” to run to be consistent. Below I explain some of my decisions of cards that are fairly non-traditional:

3 Greninja BKPGreninja-BKP

The third Greninja BKP was my latest addition to the deck. Frogadier are valuable and limited resource in this deck, and after you’ve evolved one, there’s no going back. Playing only Greninja meant you had 2 attackers and after those are gone you’re in trouble.

Including a third one not only gives you an additional attacker, but it also means you have another good attacker to BREAK evolve….anyone that has had to evolve Greninja XY into the BREAK knows my pain. Ultimately, I decided that being able to more consistently use both Giant Water Shuriken in the same turn was better than the extra 30 snipe damage.

Splash Energysplash-energy-bpt

It blows my mind that Splash Energy isn’t a staple in every Greninja deck out there. Here’s my 170 HP Greninja BREAK blocking your abilities and sniping things for 60 damage, and when you KO it, it’s all coming back.

Most decks aren’t running too many ways to discard Special Energy either, so most of the time your Splash Energy will come into effect.

Buddy-Buddy Rescue

Discarding an early Greninja or BREAK can really hurt you for the rest of the game. Buddy-Buddy Rescue will turn any Greninja in your discard from a tragedy into an opportunity. In many of my games, I also would up using Buddy-Buddy Rescue in conjunction with Battle Compressor to get any Greninja I needed from my deck when Dive ball wasn’t present.

Ace Trainerace-trainer

This card wins games, this deck should never be able to take the first KO. The Frogadier that uses “Water Duplicates” will almost always get KO’d the following turn, this gives you the opportunity to set up your Greninja and Ace Trainer.

With your opponent down to 3 cards you can either start doing damage or use “Shadow Stitching” to lock them out of any hopes and dreams they may have of playing Shaymin or using Octillery.

Hex Maniac

Hex Maniac will win you the mirror. In the Greninja mirror, whoever whiffs “Shadow Stitching” first loses. Hex Maniac allows you to use “Moonlight Slash” to get some extra damage in during the mirror without losing the game next turn.

Rough Seas

Rough Seas didn’t see as much action this weekend as it had in the past. The main reason for Rough Seas to be in here is to basically erase a turn from Trevenant BREAK, which was getting a lot of hype before the tournament. Additionally, being able to eliminate your opponent’s Stadium is always valuable.

Silent Labsilent-lab

Much like Rough Seas, Silent Lab was here to counter another deck that was big in my area towards the end of Cities. Manectric-EX/Wobbuffet/Crobat was seeing a decent amount of play in Wisconsin during January, and Primal Groudon-EX had just gotten a lot of hype from its performance in Winter regionals.

Silent lab would prevent Wobbuffet from shutting down Greninja BREAK, and one turn of Water Shuriken is all you need to turn either matchup around.


 

Never Enough One-offs

Both my losses were against Night March/Vespiquen. More importantly, however, the losses were to myself. Here are some additions I would consider/reconsider making to the deck if I could find the room for them:

Town Maptown-map

With the amount of one-offs this deck runs, Town Map can help you pick the ones you need for each match-up should any of them be prized.

Prizing a Greninja BREAK or Fisherman can be pretty scary, and Town Map can help turn around a match where your prizes are killing you.

2 Professor’s Letter

I can attribute two of my losses to not drawing Energy soon enough, adding a second Professors’ Letter can help with that.

Delinquent

By only running 2 Stadiums, I set myself up to lose Stadium wars. Delinquent can help me get rid of my opponent’s Stadiums and disrupt them. It would also be a good follow-up to Ace Trainer, whose value I highlighted above.

Manaphy PCLmanaphy-primal-clash

Some of my earlier lists included 1-2 copies of this card, and I still think it could find a place in this deck. For 1 Water Energy this card can either let you recover 2 of your discarded frogs or let you refresh your hand.

Teammates

Some of my earlier lists would also run teammates as Froakie and Frogadier are very fragile, and Teammates would allow you to get the necessary cards to set up afterwards.


 

Conclusion

After a lot of testing, I almost gave up on this deck, and boy am I glad I didn’t. While my build isn’t for everyone, hopefully this build will encourage some to look at more creative solutions around a deck’s weaknesses.

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Yamil Pietri is a Michigan State University alumnus, originally from Puerto Rico, and currently residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He began playing competitively in 2014 and since then has made Top Cut at multiple events including City, State, and Regional Championships.

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