Prof-It! Underground Fans Members! This week’s episode article is going to be about my new favorite deck, hard-to-specifically-name lock. For the sake of crediting the originator and saving syllables, I’m just going to call it “chenlock”. I know that Fulop just posted his report on the same deck recently, but our lists are a total of 12 cards different, and I think that’s enough to warrant at least some discussion on the deck differences.
Jason Chen made it.
I said brief, right? Well, maybe I can talk a LITTLE more about it. Basically, Jason Chen wanted another strong attacker in his sablock. He also wanted to pull Claydols up and burn them and laugh at his opponents. Blaziken FB fit the bill. Chen took the deck to top 32 at US nationals, losing a close series of 3 to the eventual winner, Con Le. Despite only climbing to the top 32, Chen’s “chenlock” was one of just two decks with no duplicates, so it interested us (the other was Manetric/entei-raikou. . . which didn’t really grab any hype at all… poor guy… ). Chenlock went on to see at least a handful of decent runs at Worlds, but it didn’t really come into full swing until now.
Why now? Well, on the downside, we’ve lost Blaziken’s favorite “Luring Flame” target, claydol. But on the upside, his favorite “jet Shoot” target, Dialga G LV.X, has seen a huge spike in play due to Komatsuda’s world winning list and the emergence of Vilegar. Blaziken alone makes for a nice Dialga counter, and the option to Luring Flame high retreat nuisances like Vileplume UD is still a great option, too.
So what does Aziz Al-Yami bring to the list? I’ll be honest, I haven’t had a single conversation with him before aside from maybe both of us commenting on the same thing on Facebook, but revealed to me an innovation that I really REALLY like. It’s the…
Heavy Smeargle UD Line.
Why do this instead of Sableye? As you’ve seen, I only have 1 Sableye in my list right now. Isn’t that madness? Just maybe, but if anything, I want to analyze this choice over the original and give some insight to the idea.
Problems with Sableye starts:
Don’t get me wrong, I love Sableye. I did, after all, play it constantly from Regionals on. A lot of people have a hard time making a decision with that opening choice with Sableye. Do I Collector, Judge, Initiative, or Cyrus maybe? You don’t know what is in your opponent’s hand, so you have to assume.
Say they have 25% search and draw cards in their deck (this is a pretty accurate guess for most decks right now). If they have a 6 card hand, they’ll average one search card in their hand, and 2 search cards isn’t too uncommon either. Maybe they laid down two basics and have a 5 card hand—chances get slimmer for a good hand.
By general rule, I used to only open with Judge if they had that 6 card hand. It drops them to 4+1 from the draw as opposed to 6+1. In all other cases I’d go for the Initiative. So, what are the issues with this?
1. Guesswork and estimates have to be made (you don’t know what’s in their hand!). You might Judge away a terrible hand or Initiative when they have 4 supporters in their hand—you just never know!
2. Your opponent always gets the benefit of the topdeck. This never happened to me much, but boy is it a letdown. You hit double heads with Initiative and look at their hand—they’ve got a Cyrus, Collector, and crap. You dump the supporters and feel like the game is just a few turns from a quick close. Then they topdeck that one Communication/Collector/other search card, build their hand up again and effectively waste your first turn of the game.
3. You have to go first. Sometimes this is exciting because you get the first disruption, but it can also put you in a bad situation if he’s your only starter and you’re up against Machamp/Kingdra/other deck that can hit for 60 right away going 2nd. Going first does give you the chance for a turn 1 win before your opponent gets to draw, but this only happens if you have Special Darks, or Darks + Crobat in your opening hand versus a 50 HP or lower basic.
So what can Smeargle do to fix these problems?
1. Guesswork is eliminated with Smeargle. You can see your opponent’s hand from the moment you “Portrait”. In a metagame where every deck runs 3-4 Collector, 2+ Bebe’s Search, and often 4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy, you have a huge chance to net a huge card advantage AND disrupt.
Here’s what I usually do—I Portrait and look at my opponent’s hand. If they have just 1-2 good search cards in their hand, I do what I can to play a Collector (either playing my own on turn 2, playing their Collector on turn 1-2, or playing their Cyrus’s Conspiracy and then my Collector on turn 2).
With the Collector, I grab Chatot G, Sableye, and Unown Q. I rearrange their topdecks with Chatot G to useless resources, use Unown Q to retreat Smeargle, and then use Sableye to Initiative, hopefully taking their great hand away and leaving them to zero resources for the rest of the game.
2. I kind of answered problem 2 already, but if you are able to pull out that quick chatot G, you can eliminate the topdeck aspect.
3. You don’t have to go first. Ironically, it’s actually beneficial to go 2nd if you’re going the disruption/donk route. Even going first, though, grabbing your opponent’s supporter can save you from a situation where you would have been donked. If you’re playing against a deck that might donk you, pulling a supporter out of their hand will usually allow you to search your deck for more basics to stay in the game.
And for those of you worried about the “what if they have no supporter in their hand” scenario, here’s what I’ve found—if they don’t have a supporter in their hand, chances are they don’t have the best resources to donk you anyway.
4. The donk. This isn’t even a problem, it’s just an added bonus. If they have one basic Pokémon and you go second with Smeargle, your chances of donking are through the roof. This is thanks to possibly the most questionable card in the deck, Unown DARK.
Here’s how I set up most of my donks with the Smeargle start:
Portrait for Collector -> grab Unown DARK, Sableye, and Unown Q. You can now knockout any starter with 50 HP. Let’s say that you had your own Cyrus/Collector/Bebe, too. After playing that, every Crobat that you are able to drop leads to a basic Pokémon with 10 more HP than 50 that you can donk. There are many possibilities, but this is the most common. Again, if they have no supporter in their hand, you can go a disruption route instead with one of your own supporters. The odds of both you and your opponent having no supporter is very very low, and even then, at the very least your game will just be an even match.
Beyond this, as I’ve explained in other posts/articles the other reasons why Smeargle is awesome anyway. You can play him after every time your active gets KO’d, and right after every Poké Turn that you play on the active. Grabbing that extra search card allows you to keep a stable lead or mount a quick comeback. If you’ve ever played against an opponent with Smeargle experience, then you can vouch for me that it’s a really good card.
I’m not saying Smeargle heavy is the only way to go, but I really recommend you try it. This Smeargle heavy engine might be able to work in other decks, too, and I’m going to be working with it all season.
Onto the report!
So the night before, I’m relentlessly testing my Luxchomp build. I have the thing maxed out for the Garchomp counter with 2 Energy Exchangers, 3-1 Chomp, 1-1 Staraptor FB + Stadiums, Dragonite, and Ambipom. I test against my friend Carver Warning, who right around States last year became really competitive and has been playing Dialgachomp ever since. I can’t beat him for the life of me. I always feel one card short of getting a consistent counter on the Garchomp C LV.X, and I keep losing. I think I won maybe 1 out of 6-7 games before taking a break.
I’m pretty stressed, as this is also the day my computer went AWOL on me, and I start feeling very uncomfortable with my SP mirror again despite all of my techs.
pokemon-paradijs.comI then start remembering my “glory days” with Sablock and my undefeated streak versus SP. I had taken Sablock apart a few weeks earlier because of Vilegar problems and the heavier supporter count that decks run, but I decided to give things another shot. In order to improve my Vilegar and Dialga matchups, I really wanted to play Blaziken FB, but I was worried that by adding Fire and drastically lowering my D Energy count, I probably wouldn’t be able to play my Mewtwo/Machamp/lots of stuff counter, Honchkrow SV. I took the search for Chenlock online.
Between bursts of computer shutdowns and reboots, I attempt to browse the web for some of the basic advice. I look over Chen’s original list on SixPrizes.com, then some okay lists scattered online. I come across a Heytrainer.org report where Aziz was running BlazeChomp with 4 Smeargle, and I’m pretty sure no Sableye or disruption. From what I know, Aziz wasn’t the first person to invent this engine, but he’s the first person that I heard about it from.
After a few more restarts and searches, I find Aaron Curry’s list for a Chenlock with 3 Smeargle in it, and I like a lot of the ideas he has going. I took his list and added a few touches and was ready to test. At 11 PM.
Curry didn’t really post any of the strategy, but I started figuring out the Smeargle dynamics pretty quickly, and my knowledge with playing Sablock so extensively made the deck feel like a perfect fit. My first game against Carver I get double heads with Initiative to kill his supporters, then use Chatot G to lock him for the game.
I don’t feel like this proved anything, though—a double heads on Initiative isn’t something you can count on. Then I played his friend with Vilegar and was able to donk his Spiritomb. Then his Gastly. And then in a close game I was able to Luring Flame his Vileplume after Initiative-ing his Warp Energy out of hand—giving me a crucial next-turn knockout with Jet Shoot to gain usage of trainers again and win.
I kept disrupting carver for wins, relying on just 1 heads now, and I won the game where I got double tails as well. In the end, I think I took 10-12 straight wins.
So, despite the hours of hard work I’ve put into extensive Luxchomp testing, I opt for a deck that I put together at 11 at night. Here’s what I took:
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 28
2 Cyrus’s Initiative
The Rantoul Battle Road is way smaller than the Champaign one two weeks ago—it just seemed that all the players that usually come were busy that day. So the tournament was definitely smaller—just 4 rounds top 2. It was my last chance at a medal, though, and who doesn’t want that beastly Typhlosion medal? Well, here goes!
Round 1—vs. William w/ Dialgachomp
This game was over in 30 seconds. I go first with Smeargle and Crobat G in hand to his lone Garchomp start. I have a DCE in hand. I Portrait his Collector for a Garchomp C, a 2nd Bat, and Unown Q. Two Flash Bites, Quick on Smeargle and retreat for a 30×2 Claw Swipe to KO. I could have done this much easier with Ambipom, but either way I’m glad to see the Smeargle working in my favor.
Round 2—vs. Richard w/ Kingdra Machamp
pokemon-paradijs.comI used to think Richard practiced witchcraft in the privacy of his home. Not really, but for some reason I can never beat him. The problem is, it’s never a straight up whooping. The story is usually this–I take the first 5 Prizes for him to get six straight. He’s one of the most respectful players out there, too, so I can’t even be mad at him :P. My last Battle Road, I took 5 Prizes with Luxchomp to hit a 7+ turn energy drought and lose to his Kingdra/Donphan. Now that he got the idea from Underground to do Machamp instead, my matchup is even worse.
Kingdra/Machamp also brings back some very bad memories. It was my loss in top 128 of Nationals last year. I had to take revenge.
I start Smeargle and go the Sableye disruption route when I see he starts with a Horsea and Machop. I will not stand for Machamp sweeping me with no counter. I Portrait his Collector for Sableye, Unown Q, and Garchomp C (would have gotten the Chatot G, but both it and Azelf were prized).
I hit one Initiative heads and look at what he has—he has a Belt, Broken Time-Space, Seadra, Collector, and Cyrus. I decide to drop his Collector to prevent an Uxie rampage and eventual Machamp. He ends up topdecking some way to get an Uxie, and he burns his hand down (Belt included) to try and setup to hit the Kingdra or Machamp pieces. He gets neither and has to use his Cyrus for a Bebe I think, and he KOs my Sableye with Seadra LA’s attack with the Expert Belt.
My memory gets a little fuzzy here, but I end up being able to KO his Seadra for 2 Prizes with a Garchomp C LV.X, as well as Initiative-ing to get the fighting out of his hand. While he’s able to set up another Kingdra, I’m able to prevent him from ever hitting a fighting with Chatot G, and I keep a steady prize count with Garchomp snipes. I finally defeat Richard and Kingdra/Machamp, and I can finally die happy.
Round 3—vs. Carver w/ Dialgachomp
Carver has been afraid of me all day because of my present undefeated streak on his deck. Sometimes it’s not even my own skill, but bad luck/good luck that kept my streak alive. Either way, I am much more confident with this matchup now then I was before with Luxchomp.
We deal our opening hands and I start Smeargle (again! I don’t even run 4, but I swear I get him every time), and he starts lone Uxie. He attaches, Psychic Restores, and passes. I have one Poké Turn in hand and I Portrait his Collector and use my own Collector to get 2 Crobats, Unown Q, and Uxie. I drop the two Bats and a 3rd after the Poké Turn and use Q to retreat and Psychic Restore for the donk.
I feel dumb afterward because I could have gotten Sableye for less resources, but as soon as I saw a way in my deck to get the donk I just went for it. It’s really lame to win like that, but by now I had come to love the heavy Smeargle engine and understand how versatile and fast it makes you.
Round 4 vs. Robert w/ Kingdra/Jumpluff
Robert is a league regular, usually running a rogue deck that you know isn’t very competitive, like Dragonite LA. This was probably the best structured deck I’ve seen him run, and he did a lot more than I thought he would. I start Uxie but am able to topdeck a Sableye and I attach and retreat to Impersonate a Cyrus to try to setup. He starts hitting fast with Kingdra Prime. Unfortunately for him, he only runs the Prime—so by the time I drop Blaziken FB his power is really limited. I finally KO his Prime when he’s out of resources and Chatot G lock for the rest of the game.
Top cut is announced, and I find out I’ll be playing Carver again!
I go second with Smeargle, Portrait Collector to get Sableye, Unown Q, and Garchomp C. Immediately I wish I had grabbed Chatot G instead—I hate letting the topdeck be an option out of the lock. So I Q Smeargle to retreat to Sableye and Impersonate an Initiative to knock the one supporter out of his hand. He topdecks and…
… it’s garbage.
Some kind of energy or Expert Belt or something, all I remember is that it was a card he didn’t need. I drop Chatot G the next turn and the game is pretty much over from there—I have search cards while he doesn’t, and I’m able to take all 6 Prizes in a relatively quick amount of time.
A big play that helped me conserve resources was using Chatot G’s “Search and Escape” attack on turns when I couldn’t attack. Not only does this net you a trainer (such as an SP tool, Premier Ball, or VS Seeker), but it also shuffles Chatot back into the deck, allowing you to replay him for his Disrupting Spy power once more without having to waste one of your Poké Turns.
He choses to go 2nd, and for once I’m without anything good. I start with a lone Crobat G, topdeck a Blaziken FB, bench it and attach a Fire to pass—no supporter in my hand. He starts a small setup and Deafens. I attach and play a Cyrus’s Initiative I just drew—I think I get one heads and take out one Supporter card out of two in his hand. He draws, drops more Pokémon and sets up some Chomps before Deafening again.
I draw a Bebe’s Search and debate whether I should attempt to Uxie (he has 3 Pokémon SP in play) or if I should grab a Blaziken FB LV.X and Jet Shoot for a KO, hopefully pulling a good prize. After looking at his hand I think I noticed he had an energy drought, and I decided that he wouldn’t have the resources to KO me back. So I Jet Shoot and pull a lousy prize. He can’t KO me back and doesn’t do much other than playing a Collector to try and thin his deck.
I whiff a good search card again, and decide to Luring Flame his Bronzong. He flips tails on burn, but draws into the Cyrus for the Poké Turn and the energy he needed to get a Garchomp C LV.X going. He starts to get ahead in prizes and I’m only able to KO his Garchomp/Garchomp counters twice while he gets 3 KOs on me (somewhere around here I finally his my first Cyrus to stay in the game).
It ends up where he has a zero energy Garchomp on his bench with an active Smeargle, and a useless one-card hand. I have an active Dragonite FB with a Double Colorless and an Energy Gain. He has 1 Prize left to my 2. I have 4 slots used on my bench and have 2 options for the fifth. Option 1 is to build a Garchomp C basic and hope to draw into means to get the LV.X soon, and the other is to drop Chatot G and hope that I can give him some bad topdecks.
pokemon-paradijs.comI go for option 2 and I realize that I can at least give him 2 turns where he does nothing, but the third turn will either give him a bebe or a Luxury Ball. I make the Bebe his third topdeck. I then attach to Dragonite and figure that if I can get 2 heads with Giant Tail in the next 4 turns I can win it.
I giant tail—tails. He draw passes. I draw crap and GIANT TAIL—-TAILS. He draw passes. Bad draw again and GIANT TAIIIIIILLLLLLL—-FAIL! He draws into the Bebe, and uses it to get Uxie LV.X. Now my time left before he draws energy or DCE is really low, due to his “Trade Off” every turn. I’m able to Power Spray him once, but it’s my last Spray. I whiff on my 4th Giant Tail and flip the table, steal the Victory Medal, and run home as he gets the energy he needs to Dragon Rush the next turn.
Time was called at the end of that last game, so it’s down to a 1 Prize standoff. I get a Sableye start with a Cyrus, Poké Turn, Warp Energy, and I can’t remember the rest—not bad. He starts Ambipom G active with Garchomp C on the bench. I topdeck Unown Q and feed it to Sableye right away, and attach an energy to him to prevent Carver from using Ambipom’s Snap Attack + 2 Crobats for the KO.
I Impersonate for Cyrus’s Initiative and hit one heads to see that he has a 0 search hand, with a Special Metal, Aaron’s Collection, two Power Sprays, and an SP Radar. I’m very tempted and even say out loud about how I want to do the metal, but I opt for the SP Radar instead so that he can’t make use of the 2 Power Sprays. He draws into a Switch, attaches to Chomp C on the bench and passes.
I topdeck a Collector and know I have the game—I grab 2 Crobat G and Unown Dark, grab the Special D Energy out of my deck, Flash Bite x 3 with the help of Poké Turn and use Sableye’s “Overconfident” to hit his Ambipom G for 50 and win the 1 Prize game.
pokemon-paradijs.comSo I end my last Battle Road, albeit small, with a Victory Medal! I have complete footage of all three top cut games, and I’ll link you guys to those as soon as I have a new computer that can process major graphics.
Things I would change in consideration of the tournament and Fulop’s post:
-Some of the differences between my list and Fulop’s were metagame choices. We have yet to see any straight machamp here, while Fulop opted to prepare for that problem with Lucario GL and a 3-1 Uxie line. I will probably try and fit Lucario in this build as long as the Machamp hype stays high after Triumphant is released.
-I didn’t end up using Judge ever in that tournament, and I’ve only used it every once in a while during testing. I’m considering dropping its count to 1—the Initiative+Chatot combo seems to be a lot more effective for me right now.
-Fulop ran Ambipom over Dragonite. Before the tournament I was torn on which card I wanted more in this deck, but I think I like Ambipom better. Ambipom offers a good disruptive element and is great for another way to donk, and is also an option to deny a Machamp tech of his F Energies. He’s also harder to get the return KO on, unlike Dragonite’s terrible colorless weakness. I do hate having Ambipom when my opponent has a Garchomp with an energy on him, but overall I think ‘Pom is a better option.
-Fulop also ran Toxicroak G Promo, which I ran in my Regionals and Nationals list for Sablock (I think I was one of the only players to run ToxiG Promo in Sablock during regionals—it’s probably the one innovation I ever made to the deck, even if it was something that people would catch on to later without hearing about it from me).
So far I’ve been pretty good against Luxchomp without it—I just find that SP builds are very easy to lock quickly before they become big trouble. I’d like to fit Toxicroak and Psychic back in if I could, but I want so many other things first I don’t know how I’d make room.
-Fulop ran an Energy Exchanger and wished he had 2. I wish I had at least one in here. Faster DCE means faster snipes with ‘Chomp means more wins.
-I only used Warp Energy some of the time for Smeargle and Dragon Rush shenanigans, but 3 is probably too many. I’d probably cut one for either another searchable energy or another Special Dark, so that I can still use Unown DARK to grab one if the other is prized.
pokemon-paradijs.com-I defend my use of Chatot to the end of this earth; I use him in 8-9 out of 10 games. Nothing frustrates an opponent more than by forcing them to have no options.
-I’m still getting used to 3-1 Garchomp, but I really do think it’s a good play. Even if the LV.X is prized, the base Chomp serves as a great Garchomp LV.X counter, and you always have Blaziken to count on, too.
-I need to test 1-1 before I can commit to which is the better play, but in my Dialga testing he’s extremely helpful.
-Like Fulop, I’d like to fit Bronzong G in here if I could. Curry actually had it in his list and I ended up cutting it for the Chatot. Bronzong can make some plays in 1 turn that would normally take 2—and speed is so important in this game.
In the end, I’m not sure where to make definite cuts to free up space. Cutting my 2nd judge is one slot, and MAYBE I’d cut one Bebe to free up a second, but I really liked the consistency it provided me. I could probably test 1-1 Blaziken for an extra slot, too. I’d cut the Warp, but it’d probably just be so that I can fit one other kind of energy in there. If I cut Dragonite, he’ll become Ambipom.
One major worry I have is that if I add cards like Lucario and Bronzing and Toxicroak G Promo, my good start ratio will decrease.
Ultimately, I think my list and Fullop’s are two separate builds trying to do slightly different things. With my free space, I’d probably add Lucario, Energy Exchanger, and maybe Bronzong. I’ll probably be testing this more before Cities, and I’ll keep you guys updated to what I find out.
Thanks for reading my article! I encourage you to try out the Smeargle engine and see how it works out for you. Have a nice week!
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