Hello readers! I am Darin O’Meara and welcome to my very first article! Today I will be talking about a deck very near and dear to my heart, Vespiquen. I have quite the history with this card in our PRC-on format (if like 5 months counts as history).
Vespiquen, as a deck, first emerged before the PRC-on rotation even started, with the Pokebeach Writers’ Tournament at Worlds 2016 using the PRC-STS format that hadn’t officially begun yet. Prior to this, people dismissed Vespiquen without a second thought since it had lost its main way of accelerating Pokemon to the discard pile in Battle Compressor. It was then that Andrew Mahone and John Kettler piloted two different versions of the deck, one with Zoroark as its main secondary attacker and another with both Zoroark and Zebstrika respectively. John Kettler would reach the finals of this tournament, only to be bested by Alex Koch and his Rainbow Road deck.
Fast forward a bit, and Vespiquen received what people thought to be the end of its life in Karen, which shuffled all discarded Pokemon on both players’ side into their respective decks. Karen heavily dissuaded people from playing Vespiquen in fear of taking an autoloss to a single card. Vespiquen pretty much fell under the radar at this point.
Fast forward again to Fort Wayne Regionals in late November. Hardly anyone had considered Vespiquen as a viable option anymore. Due to this, Karen saw essentially zero play. So, it was decided that maybe it was Vespiquen’s time to step out of the shadows. The night before the tournament I decided to bring out the bees. Much to my surprise and delight, TheCharizardLounge’s Andrew Wamboldt had done the same. I managed to pilot a pretty typical Vespiquen/Zoroark build all the way to an 11th place finish. Here’s the list I used –
|Pokemon – 26||Trainer – 30||Energy – 4|
|4x Combee AOR 9||4x Professor Sycamore||4x Double Colorless Energy|
|4x Vespiquen AOR 10||2x N|
|3x Zorua BKT 89||2x Lysandre|
|3x Zoroark BKT 91||1x Teammates|
|4x Unown AOR 30||1x Pokemon Ranger|
|4x Klefki STS 80|
|4x Shaymin-EX ROS 77||4x VS Seeker|
|4x Ultra Ball|
|3x Acro Bike|
|2x Trainers’ Mail|
|2x Special Charge|
|2x Float Stone|
|1x Parallel City|
Fort Wayne Regionals was played in the PRC-EVO format before Yveltal had hit its peak. I believe this was the ideal setup for the tournament, but it is far from it now. Nowadays we have several options on what to run, and running a dedicated 3-3 line to one backup attacker simply doesn’t cut it. Also, Trainers’ Mail has been found to be nonessential, and was cut from most lists. Vespiquen lists are simply better now than they were in November.
Post-Fort Wayne, people began realizing the power of Vespiquen again. Yveltal had started to run rampant, and Alex Hill realized this. Alex Hill piloted a Vespiquen/Zebstrika list to a 9th place finish in the London International Championships. Zebstrika was a hard counter to Yveltal; having the potential to OHKO a belted Yveltal for a single Double Colorless Energy. His list opted to include a 3-3 line of the aforementioned as well as a 2-2 line of Garbodor to deal with Greninja and a decreased count of Shaymin-EX, Unown, and Klefki. His list steamrolled its way through Day 1, netting him an 8-1 finish. However, due to an unfortunate Opponents-Opponents Win Percentage Tiebreaker, Hill was kept out of Top 8.
Vespiquen would start taking more and more finishes in League Cups and in Regionals, finally hitting its current peak at the Athens Regional Championships. Three different players piloted Vespiquen to Top 8 finishes, all with different versions and variations on the deck. William Boatman took seventh, playing the most typical version of the deck, including a 2-2 Zebstrika line, 2-2 Garbodor line, and exactly what you’d expect for a Vespiquen deck. Carl Sitavi took third, and made a few new variations on the deck. He included the typical 2-2 Zebstrika line along with a 2-1 Vaporeon line for the Volcanion matchup, a 1-1 Zoroark line for an extra backup attacker, and a Mew-EX for the Mega Mewtwo matchup. However, by far the most crazy Vespiquen list played to success in standard so far was Dylan Bryan’s Vespiquen list, which he piloted to 2nd place in Athens. He included a 3-2 Octillery line, 2 Rattata, only 2 Klefki, only 1 Shaymin-EX, a Mew-EX, a decreased 1-1 Garbodor line, only 3 VS Seeker, an Olympia, and a Lucky Helmet along with the standard 2-2 Zebstrika.
Vespiquen for PRC-SM
Vespiquen in standard has a lot of customizability to it, as players can essentially tech in whatever support Pokemon or backup attackers they feel necessary for the metagame they are entering. In addition, Sun and Moon adds a couple new options for Vespiquen to utilize. Let’s look at a deck skeleton of the cards essentially necessary for the deck –
|Pokemon – 17||Trainer – 25||Energy – 4|
|4x Combee AOR 9||4x Professor Sycamore||4x Double Colorless Energy|
|4x Vespiquen AOR 10||2x N|
|3x Klefki STS 80||2x Lysandre|
|3x Unown AOR 30|
|3x Shaymin-EX 77||4x Ultra Ball|
|4x VS Seeker|
|4x Acro Bike|
|2x Special Charge|
|1x Float Stone|
|Open Slots – 14|
*One of these could be Buddy-Buddy Rescue or Super Rod as well.
With 14 open slots, this deck has loads of customizability, although most of these slots are going to go into Pokemon, as you should want to have about 26 or more Pokemon in the deck to fuel Vespiquen’s Bee Revenge as much as possible. Several cards could fit into Vespiquen effectively to cover its matchups as well as help the general consistency and power of the deck.
Garbodor BPT 57
Garbodor used to be a staple inclusion in Vespiquen decks when Greninja was hyper popular, but it seems that the deck has fallen off a bit in play. In my area, about 2-3 players play Greninja at a given tournament. So for my area’s metagame, Garbodor is essentially a nonessential inclusion. However, if you enter a metagame where Greninja is popular, Garbodor essentially gives you an autowin against them. Garbodor also helps in the Volcanion matchup slightly, disallowing the Volcanion player from taking OHKOs with the non-EX Volcanion. I’ve also found Garbodor useful to distract a Volcanion player in matches, as Volcanion players often see Garbodor as bad news, and will Lysandre it up to eliminate it. This gives you two more Pokemon in the discard while also letting a Vespiquen survive. Of course, if you’re playing against a higher level Volcanion player, this won’t work, as Garbodor really isn’t much of a threat against Volcanion when it’s played in Vespiquen as some might think.
Zoroark BKT 91
Zoroark is a great backup attacker for Vespiquen. For just a DCE, Zoroark has the potential to hit for 160, or more if your opponent plays Sky Field. Zoroark is great for early game damage while you set up your Vespiquens on the bench, as even if your opponent opts to bench less, it can still hit for 100 if your opponent has three benched Pokemon. Zoroark punishes MegaRay players extremely hard for needing to bench so much, is great against Greninja as it can be brought out on the turn they use Water Duplicates in order to both OHKO a Frogadier, avoid Bursting Balloon damage, and preserve your much needed Vespiquens, and is overall just a great backup attacker for taking KOs to preserve Vespiquen. Zoroark has utility usage as well in its Stand In ability, which provides virtually free retreat to anything on your field if paired with a Float Stone. I may be biased due to my usage of it in Fort Wayne, but I believe Zoroark to be one of the best partners for Vespiquen.
Flareon AOR 13, Vaporeon AOR 22, and Jolteon AOR 26
These are all grouped together because they all serve the same purpose: Let your Vespiquens hit for weakness against popular decks. Jolteon AOR seems to be the least needed as of now. It is only helpful in two matchups, MegaRay and Yveltal. You have a fantastic matchup against MegaRay to begin with due to the usage of Kleki along with backup attackers like Zoroark or Zebstrika, and Yveltal uses Garbodor to shut down Jolteon anyway. Vaporeon is a great inclusion to turn a normally unfavored matchup in Volcanion into a positive one. Being able to hit Volcanion for weakness is huge, as you can essentially run through all of their attackers in one hit each. Being able to OHKO all of Volcanion’s attackers allows you to win the prize trade, and win the game so long as Vaporeon can come onto the field without taking a Lysandre KO early. Flareon is an inclusion that has yet to be proven. The new Sun and Moon base set gave grass a lot of love, with cards like Decidueye GX and Lurantis GX receiving a lot of hype. If these decks become popular, Flareon will become a great inclusion. Hitting the massively high HP GXs for OHKOs will win you the game sine you heavily win the prize trade. Without Flareon, these high HP numbers like the massive 240 HP on Decidueye GX will be hard to reach.
Zebstrika BKP 49
Zebstrika is a backup attacker that is more tailored to a certain metagame than Zoroark is. If your area has tons of Yveltal decks and MegaRay decks, Zebstrika can ruin those decks. Zebstrika can hit both Yveltal and Mega Rayquaza for a OHKO, making the matchups extremely difficult for them to win. Zebstrika is also good for taking out your opponent’s Shaymin-EX while preserving a Vespiquen, which gives it value in other matchups. However, Zebstrika should only be played if you’re expecting a high quantity of Yveltal or Mega Rayquaza decks in your tournament.
Octillery BKT 33
Octillery is a Pokemon I’m a little shaky on. Dylan Bryan famously used a heavy 3-2 line of it in Athens, but he also only played 1 Shaymin-EX. This card provides solid reliable draw every turn, protecting you from a late game N or even a surprise Delinquent, but playing the card means you have to find the Remoraid and the Octillery, and is also subject to getting shut down by Garbodor. In addition, it lowers your early-game draw potential, as playing Octillery usually means playing less Shaymin-EX. If you expect a lot of Garbodor-based decks in your area, I would highly suggest against using Octillery. However, if there isn’t much Garbodor around and you want to mess around with it, feel free to. I personally choose not to include it, simply because I value Shaymin-EX’s consistency over Octillery.
Rattata EVO 66
Rattata enters into more techy territory, as it’s sole purpose is to remove Fighting Fury Belts. Rattata is a great inclusion, but I often find it as the 61st card and not worth including over other options. However, being able to lower the amount of damage you need to hit for by 40 gives it merit in some instances.
Mew-EX LTR RC24
Mew-EX is a new inclusion that has started coming into the limelight in Vespiquen lists. Firstly, Mew-EX is a great hard counter to Mega Mewtwo, but only if they can’t get their Garbodor in play until later than turn 2. Mew-EX lets you Bee Revenge for OHKOs on Mega Mewtwos in the early game, whereas Vespiquen couldn’t. Being able to one shot Mega Mewtwos is important, as if you hit for more than 80 against it (or 110 in Mew-EX’s case), they can use Damage Change, fully heal themselves, and leave you in a bad spot. Mew-EX also does great in the deck as a general utility, as it gives you another option to attack with Bee Revenge with a higher HP, and can be great in the end-game to force the awkward 7 prize game.
Passimian SM 73
Now we start entering into the new stuff, the SM base set. Passimian has received a lot of hype in Vespiquen lately as a way of dealing with Turbo Darkrai. For a DCE, Passimian can swing for 200 damage against a Darkrai-EX, but with a catch: You have to have 3 other Passimian on the bench. Due to this, I don’t see Passimian as good as it has been hyped to be in Vespiquen. Finding all four Passimian and getting them onto your bench is no easy feat, and one could often times be prized. Also, although it does massive damage, it still does not OHKO a belted Darkrai-EX. Vespiquen already has a 50/50 matchup against Turbo Darkrai and playing the matchup well can often result in a win anyway, so teching against it isn’t exactly a necessity. Although it does have merit as being a high damaging basic DCE attacker, it’s simply too difficult to utilize correctly in my opinion. Should you choose to include it after all, I would suggest using Mew-EX as well, as Mew-EX can use Passimian’s Team Play for 130 damage instead of 100 due to the fact that attacking with Mew-EX allows the bench to contain four Passimian.
Tauros-GX SM 100
Tauros-GX is interesting. It’s very good in other decks that can utilize Ninja Boy, but Vespiquen can’t. So, can Vespiquen use Tauros-GX effectively? Early game, Vespiquen often likes to Sky Return with Shaymin-EX in order to both soften the target and prevent Shaymin-EX from being free prizes. Tauros-GX would provide the perfect wall for Vespiquen to promote after a Sky Return. Having Tauros-GX up means your opponent must either attack into it and fuel its Rage and Mad Bull GX attacks, or Lysandre around it, wasting their supporter for the turn. In the early game, decks often are more concerned with using draw supporters to advance their board state, and using Lysandre to avoid Tauros-GX would be detrimental to that. Your opponent could use Escape Rope should they play it, but you get to pick what you promote, which means they get around Tauros-GX but are forced to hit into another Pokemon on your bench that is most likely unneeded. Early game, decks usually aren’t doing the 180 damage needed to KO Tauros GX, meaning if they do decide to attack into it, it leaves them open to a devastating Mad Bull GX attack that can threaten OHKOs on EX’s and GX’s with minimal effort. If they don’t attack into Tauros-GX and pass, then they just went a turn without attacking, and you preserved the rest of your attackers. Tauros-GX can also attack for 60 in the early game, which can allow for the setup of KOs later without risking the loss of a Vespiquen in doing so. However, Tauros-GX also has a hefty three retreat cost, making it open to Lysandre should the Float Stone be absent, and Tauros-GX can also give up two free prizes if the opponent has the means to OHKO it. I think Tauros-GX has a reason to be in Vespiquen, but whether or not it’s effective in its purpose is yet to be seen.
Umbreon-GX SM 80 and Espeon-GX SM 61
These two cards have also seen a bit of hype in Vespiquen recently, however I am not a fan. Playing these means you have to fully commit to them, so you likely can’t play any other support Pokemon and are forced to play about four or more basic energies. Using Umbreon-GX and Espeon-GX distract from the main focus of Vespiquen too much for my liking. The main focus of Vespiquen should be to get Pokemon in the discard, attach a DCE, and go nuts, not attach a dark/psychic, Strafe/Psybeam, then attach a DCE and hit for what, 90 damage? Dark Call GX and Divide GX are good utilities for the deck, but aren’t worth the dedicated slots, which ultimately would make the deck clunky anyways.
Oranguru SM 113
This card has been controversial among the community as to its worth. Oranguru’s main purpose is to use its ability to avoid getting demolished by a late game N or a surprise Delinquent. However, I have found the deck consistent enough to be able to pull the cards needed off of an N to one or two, and Delinquent can be worked around without needing it. Oranguru does help with general consistency at times, maybe drawing you one or two more cards at a time, but not enough to warrant a slot or a bench space in my opinion.
FINALLY done with Pokemon inclusions, but I guess the sheer amount of them just shows the versatility of Vespiquen.
Teammates is INSANELY GOOD. I absolutely love the card. Being able to search your deck for any two cards essentially every turn of the game is fantastic and lets you execute whatever strategy you need for a given game much easier. Since Vespiquens will be getting knocked out almost every turn, you have the option to Teammates most turns of the game. Need another Vespiquen? Got it. Need a DCE? Got that too. Could really use a draw supporter for next turn? Poof! It’s in your hand. Teammates is just fantastic, but it clunks up early game hands at times. Once Teammates is in the discard pile however, it’s a card to look out for and can win games on its own.
I ran Pokemon Ranger in my Fort Wayne list, but it’s not really needed anymore. Back then Ranger helped a ton against Greninja, as most Greninja lists ran Jirachi XY67 which hurt Vespiquen dearly and could buy time for Greninja to set up or recover. Now however, it’s usage is limited to the odd Plumebox deck, the odd Jolteon-EX Glaceon-EX Regice Garbodor deck, and the rare Giratina-EX deck (which you still lose to even with Ranger). Should you expect a high volume of any of these decks at your next tournament, by all means include it. However, if you don’t expect these few decks, including it is essentially a wasted slot that could be used for several other cards that benefit more matchups.
Professor Kukui has been receiving quite a bit of hype lately, and I have seen it included in almost every deck at some point. However, I don’t believe it fits in well with Vespiquen. With the supporter that you use for the turn when you play Kukui, you could just as easily use Sycamore and draw into Klefkis and Unowns to add 20 damage to your Bee Revenge attack anyway. The extra 20 is helpful sometimes, but with easy ways of getting Pokemon to the discard pile to add damage to your damage output, it isn’t really needed, and you’re better off using your supporter for the turn on something that will advance your game state more as well as get Pokemon in the discard pile. I believe this card does pair well with the Passimian version of the deck should you choose to play it, since it allows Passimian to OHKO a Fury Belted Darkrai-EX, but that’s the only merit I have found in the inclusion of the card in any Vespiquen build.
I decided to group stadiums in the deck into one category under the trainer section since it’s necessary that you pick one, ideally two stadiums in Vespiquen. You have 3 main options, Forest of Giant Plants, Faded Town, and Parallel City.
Forest of Giant Plants combos well with your Revitalizers, and allows you to drop Vespiquens like they were basics (so long as you have the Combee). It also allows you to attack turn one with Vespiquen, which is important in matchups that start low HP basics, such as Greninja or the mirror, where you need to take the prize advantage as early as possible. Forest of Giant Plants is good in all matchups, and provides the best general coverage of all the stadium options.
Faded Town is used if the tournament you’re entering contains a lot of Mega Gardevoir decks or Mega Mewtwo decks. Mega Gardevoir is largely an uphill battle, as they discard all of their easy prize targets, forcing you to hit for 210 damage while they abuse Fairy Drop and kill your Vespiquens like they were nothing, all the while constantly discarding your Klefki with Rattata’s ability. Faded town helps a lot, as if they can’t get rid of the card, it adds 40 damage to their Gardevoirs by the time your turn comes again, and another 20 going back to their turn. This allows you to knock out their Gardevoirs a lot easier than before, and can swing the matchup towards you if they can’t replace Faded Town quickly. Faded Town also helps against Mega Mewtwo, allowing you to hit OHKO’s on their Mega Mewtwos to prevent them from using Damage Change to heal themselves and knock out your Vespiquens at the same time. Faded Town also helps against MegaRay, but you pretty much win that matchup most of the time anyway, so it should not be played as a direct response to Mega Ray.
Parallel City is a card I used to be a huge fan of, but eventually dropped it for better options. My Fort Wayne list used this as the only stadium card. Parallel City is used for three reasons: to discard your Shaymin-EX, fueling Bee Revenge in the process, lower Greninja and Volcanion’s damage output, and prevent your opponent from using their Parallel City. The former is the biggest use for the card, as a well-timed Parallel city can discard the Shaymin-EX from your bench and prevent them from being easy targets. Doing this also gives you a surprise damage boost that your opponent might not be expecting, and can catch them off guard. Parallel City also lowers your opponent’s Volcanion or Greninja from taking KOs as easily as they could before. Against Greninja, although trivial most times, it prevents the Greninja player from taking a KO using Shadow Stitching on a Vespiquen that had taken 60 damage from either Bursting Balloon damage or a 60 damage Moonlight Slash. Usually this is irrelevant, but it could be crucial in turns where you really need to use Shaymin-EX or Unown to draw into the cards to win the game, as they are forced to use Moonlight Slash, allowing the use of your abilities. Against Volcanion, playing the red side of Parallel City onto them means they need to use Steam Up twice on a non-EX Volcanion to knock you out with Power Heater. Most times they can achieve it without a problem, but some situations, like a late game N, can make this relevant. Lastly, playing your own Parallel City against a deck that includes it prevents them from using it to control you, as a Parallel City can’t be removed by a Parallel City. This lets you avoid the burden of dealing with Parallel City’s damage reduction or bench limitations, both of which hurt Vespiquen dearly. Of course, all of the aforementioned scenarios revolve around the opponent whiffing their own stadium or not having other non-Parallel city stadium cards, which is unlikely, meaning the card doesn’t have as much value as Forest of Giant Plants or Faded Town. Shaymin-EX can be Sky Returned in the early game in several cases to take them off the field, so Parallel City isn’t a necessity to remove them. The damage reduction against Volcanion and Greninja is often easily worked around, and if your opponent plays stadiums that aren’t Parallel City, they can bump your Parallel City with a different stadium and then play their Parallel City later.
Putting it all together
Here’s the list I believe is the most effective for Vespiquen in the PRC-SM format –
|Pokemon – 27||Trainer – 29||Energy – 4|
|4x Combee AOR 9||4x Professor Sycamore||4x Double Colorless Energy|
|4x Vespiquen AOR 10||2x N|
|3x Klefki STS 80||2x Lysandre|
|4x Unown AOR 30||1x Teammates|
|3x Shaymin-EX 77|
|2x Zorua BKT 89||4x Ultra Ball|
|2X Zoroark BKT 91||4x VS Seeker|
|2x Eevee AOR 63||4x Acro Bike|
|1x Flareon AOR 13||2x Special Charge|
|1x Vaporeon AOR 22||2x Revitalizer|
|1x Tauros-GX SM 100||2x Float Stone|
|2x Forest of Giant Plants|
I believe this list covers most of the metagame for the PRC-SM format. Here’s an explanation on my card choices –
Zoroark over Zebstrika
I decided on Zoroark over Zebstrika simply due to its general utility, which Zebstrika doesn’t posses. Zoroark is useful in essentially every matchup, and can punish an unaware or carefree opponent. Zebstrika isn’t exactly needed against one of the decks its meant to counter, MegaRay, as Zoroark can hit for huge numbers against it anyway, and Klefki prevents your Pokemon from taking hits. However, playing Zoroark over Zebstrika does make the Yveltal matchup, the other deck Zebstrika is meant to beat, more difficult, but Yveltal has begun to fall off in play recently. Should it see a resurgence in play with its new partner in Tauros-GX, Zebstrika could easily make its way back into the deck.
I decided to play the Flareon and Vaporeon because of the huge swings it can cause in matchups. Vaporeon helps immensely against Volcanion, which is very popular and has a good matchup againt Vespiquen. Vaporeon makes your Vespiquens lethal in 90% of the game and makes hitting for KOs easier. Flareon is included to counter the grass decks that I predict to arise from the new SM set. With Flareon, Vespiquen can hit both Lurantis-GX and Decidueye-GX for OHKOs, swinging the prize trade heavily in Vespiquens favor. These two Eeveelutions simply swing two difficult matchups in your favor far too much for them not to be included.
Tauros-GX was included due to its utility in the early game. Sky Returning with Shaymin-EX is an integral part of Vespiquen, and Tauros-GX finally gives Vespiquen the perfect wall to promote after a Sky Return. Also, Tauros-GX is great against EX decks revolving around 2-hit KOs, as you can force the opponent to hit into Tauros-GX and then punish them with a Mad Bull GX to remove the threat. Sure you may get returned with a knockout, but you can then simply bring up Vespiquen and start trading again. It’s normally harder for the opponent to recover from a KO than it is for Vespiquen, so Tauros-GX can be used to take the reigns in the match.
I explained why I love Teammates so much earlier; it’s just way to good to not be included. Keeping a stream of Vespiquens up is easier with Teammates, as it allows you to grab whatever two cards you need to keep up the OHKOs. I have never disliked playing Teammates in the deck, and have never wished it was a different card when it has been in my deck for a tournament. The utility of Teammates in being able to get anything you want for most turns in the game is too good to pass up in my eyes.
Forest of Giant Plants over Faded Town and Parallel City
Forest of Giant Plants is better in most matchups than the other two options for stadiums. With Mega Gardevoir on the decline, Faded Town often becomes a dead card in matchups. Against Mega Mewtwo, tactical Sky Returns and smart play can best the deck, so Faded Town isn’t entirely necessary. Parallel City has general utility like Forest of Giant Plants, but it doesn’t provide as much help as Forest of Giant Plants does. The ability to attack with Vespiquen turn one and also put Vespiquens down immediately with Revitalizer is very strong and can get you out of awkward situations where your active Vespiquen gets knocked out and you don’t have another ready. Forest of Giant Plants is also great against Greninja, as it prevents your Combees from getting taken out by Giant Water Shuriken before they get the chance to evolve, as Combees can simply evolve the second they’re placed down if Forest of Giant Plants is in play.
How it stands in the metagame
Now, for some reason, decks still don’t run Karen for the most part, but often times even if they did it wouldn’t help. Against Mega Ray, a Karen would mean getting Klefki and Zoroark back. Against Mega Gardevoir, a Karen would mean getting Klefki back while they have a harder and harder time searching out and chaining Rattata to remove Klefki as they run out of Ultra Balls. Against Greninja, it’s not hard to get the needed amount of Pokemon back in the discard to OHKO a Greninja with the use of Unown and Klefki. Only a few decks, Mega Mewtwo and Turbo Darkrai to name a couple, can effectively use Karen to win against Vespiquen, since using it means there’s almost no way Vespiquen can reach the numbers needed to knockout Mega Mewtwo-EX or Darkai-EX in one or even two hits. I believe as Vespiquen grows even more these decks will begin to include Karen in their list, as the inclusion of one card to essentially autowin against a top deck is definitely worth the inclusion. Let’s examine Vespiquen’s matchup against some of the top decks in standard –
Turbo Darkrai – 50/50
This matchup is a toss up. It all depends on how well the Vespiquen player sets up. If they can start taking OHKOs in the midgame, they most likely will win. Zoroark can hit for a solid amount of damage if the opponent isn’t careful, and can be great for setting up KOs. Tauros-GX is huge in the matchup in the early game, as it both softens your opponent up for later KOs and threatens KOs itself since the Turbo Darkrai player likely can’t OHKO Tauros-GX in the first few turns of the game. Letting it soak damage from a non-EX Yveltal and then using Lysandre on a benched Darkrai can put the Vespiquen player at a largely advantageous position.
Mega Rayquaza – 70/30
You should feel blessed for getting paired with a MegaRay. Zoroark hits it for massive amount of damage (OHKOs at times), while the opposition often can’t even touch you due to Klefki. The only way you lose to this deck is dead draw in most cases.
Greninja BREAK – 55/45
Greninja is a stressful matchup. The first few turns are crucial. If you go first, you’ll want to get a Zorua down. Doing this will allow you to hit into your opponents Froakie and then Frogadier in the next turn while protecting your Vespiquens from Bursting Balloon damage. Zoroark is useless later in the game, so using it early to take a quick two prize lead is huge. If you go second, try to find your Tauros-GX and use it to KO their active Froakie with Horn Attack, or use Forest of Giant Plants and attack with Vespiquen to take a KO. They most likely won’t have a Bursting Balloon attached on turn one, allowing you a free prize. Try to get a Zorua down as well, so when they use their Frogadier you can swing with it to preserve your Vespiquen in the next turn. In both cases, once they get Greninja down they can attack you, but not for knockouts unless they have Bursting Balloons damage on the board. Taking another KO will give you a three prize lead. Once they get multiple Greninja BREAKs out it gets hairy, as they can start taking OHKOs on your Vespiquen and more KOs on benched Vespiquens. Try to have as many Vespiquens ready and waiting as possible, and avoid benching Combee until you can evolve it into Vespiquen using Forest of Giant Plants to prevent them from taking a quick Giant Water Shuriken KO on it. Taking the last three prizes is all about preserving Vespiquens and preventing their Bursting Balloons from having a ton of effect. Using Lysandre to get around Bursting Balloons as well as their Splash Energies is viable here, and can swing the matchup heavily in your favor if done correctly. Overall, play smart and conservatively (if possible) and you can take out Greninja without a ton of problems.
Volcanion – 60/40
This used to be a 40/60, but Vaporeon changes that heavily. Get down two Eevees as quick as possible, as getting only one down opens yourself up to a Lysandre. Once Vaporeon is out, roll with the punches with Vespiquen and Zoroark, prioritizing Zoroark usage as much as possible since it is harder for the non-EX Volcanion to KO it, which can bait out a Volcanion-EX. This matchup is essentially trading your way to victory, so long as you can establish your Vaporeon and keep it alive for a few turns.
Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor – 45/55 or 50/50
This match is all about avoiding Damage Change. Sky Return is crucial here, as you need to soften up your opponents Mega Mewtwo just enough to where they can’t Damage Change and knock you out, then swing for the KO until you’re ready to take OHKOs on their Mega Mewtwo-EX. Garbodor usually makes Klefki null and void, but if they don’t or can’t get it out, you can use them to give your Vespiquens a longer life.
Vespiquen – 50/50
Who takes the first KO? Who avoids benching Shaymin-EX? Who can stick a late game N? All of these factors make this matchup a tossup, as a mirror should be. This mirror is very Night March Mirror-esque, as its essentially a free-for-all with KOs going back and forth as each side tries to get setup without Shaymin-EX. Playing N and then taking a KO at the right time is key, and should be abused when the time is right. Overall, try to take the first KO to start ahead in the prize trade and avoid benching Shaymin-EX and you should be in good shape.
Umbreon-GX Variants – 40/60 or 45/55
Umbreon-GX’s high HP makes this matchup difficult, and it swings for just enough damage to take out Vespiquen and then do bench damage. Tauros-GX helps a ton in this matchup, as it can’t be knocked out in one hit, allowing you to return the KO with a Mad Bull GX. Tauros-GX can also OHKO with Horn Attack an unevolved Eevee should they be unable to get a dark energy onto it to evolve, allowing you to both take a prize and wall with it at the same time. Outside of this, facing Umbreon means playing a generic game with Vespiquen, as you simply just want to fuel Bee Revenge enough to start taking knockouts on Umbreons.
Yveltal-EX/Tauros-GX/Garbodor – 40/60
This is a rough one. Without Zebstrika, Yveltal’s high HP makes this matchup difficult. To top it all off, they also play Parallel city which can limit your damage output even further, making it extremely hard to take knockouts. To top it off, Garbodor shuts off your Klefkis and Unowns from using their abilities, making discarding Pokemon harder. This deck isn’t huge right now, so it shouldn’t be a huge issue, but if it makes a resurgence prepare to reinstate Zebstrika to the main backup attacker slot.
Mega Gardevoir-EX STS – 35/65
I hate this matchup. They do everything a Vespiquen player doesn’t want to see. They rid their bench of cheap prizes with Despair Ray while at the same time knocking out a Vespiquen, they discard your Klefkis over and over again with Rattata, and they have a high HP number. All of these combined makes this matchup rough. Tauros-GX can be useful early game to soften up Mega Gardevoir-EX if you know that it is unlikely that they will return the KO, as Tauros-GX can swing for a KO on a full HP Mega Gardevoir if they aren’t able to OHKO it or play around it. However, they also play Hawlucha, meaning the Gardevoir player can often play around Tauros-GX rather easily, making this matchup incredibly rough. The only thing that can really swing this matchup to a manageable position is Faded Town, but if you see Mega Gardevoir in large numbers at a tournament you probably shouldn’t be playing Vespiquen anyway. The matchup can still be won if you can manage a KO on a Shaymin-EX early on, if your opponent dead draws (which isn’t extremely uncommon for Mega Gardevoir), or just manage a fantastic start, but it’s far from ideal.
Lurantis-GX/Vileplume – 60/40 if going first, 40/60 if going second
This matchup may seem like a whitewash at first glance due to Flareon, but Vileplume’s item lock really hurts Vespiquen. If Lurantis-GX/Vileplume can go first and establish a Vileplume, finding the pieces for both Vespiquens and Zoroarks along with Eevees and the one Flareon in the deck all at the same time becomes incredibly difficult. If you go first, you can try to fill your bench with a couple Combee and an Eevee to prepare to get the Flareon out, putting you at a much better situatiuon when the item lock hits. Ultimately it comes down to finding the Flareon and getting it into play. If Flareon can be established, then the win will usually follow.
Decidueye GX – 60/40
Flareon makes this a lot easier. This is a matchup where you do everything Vespiquen should. Discard Pokemon, establish Vespiquen, and roll with the punches. The only abnormal thing you need to do is try and get both Eevee down turn one and then evolve into Flareon the next. Tauros can also be great in this matchup, as they can’t OHKO it without a Professor Kukui and four Feather Arrows onto it. Try to avoid benching Shaymin-EX, as Decidueye-GX can deal 20 to them every turn with Feather Arrow for each Decidueye-GX in play, allowing them to take cheap prizes. An early Lysandre KO on Flareon can make this difficult, so this matchup is far from a whitewash, but still favorable.
Vespiquen is 100% a force to be reckoned with, and I would expect to see it at every tournament. As a Vespiquen player, try to find out what people are playing at a given tournament, and change your list accordingly. Don’t be rude about it though, just talk with your friends and try to make an educated guess. Vespiquen is so versatile that it can tech for pretty much everything, so use this to your advantage to tech against the metagame. However, friends don’t tech against friends, remember this. Remember, have fun and good luck! Hopefully, at the end of your tournament, your deck will be all the buzz!