Plenty of Fish in the Sea: Post-Triumphant Gyarados Analysis

Mr. Gyarados shuffled uneasily as he waited for her to answer the door. The rain beat down from the sky like falling fists, but he was far too demoralized to mind. It had been a while since his last visit, and he was afraid she wouldn’t be too happy. He attempted to straighten his tie, but his appearance was so mangled that it really made no difference. He heard the tumblers turn over and the door slowly creaked open.

“What do you want?” a dry, cacophonous voice called.

“I’m a little short on funds,” Mr. Gyarados replied. “I wanted to know if I could have a place to stay for the time being.”

It was true, Gyarados was off to a bad foot. Over a year ago, Gyarados founded a company in France that ended up as the 5th largest company in the world. The only problem is, he could never get things to expand. He could never out-speed or outsource his competition, and his hold on consumer interest had dwindled. After a long run of not being able to break his competitors, he suffered depression and began to fall apart. He was moving back in with mother.

“I knew you were a bad seed! Why couldn’t you be like Luxchomp or Dialgachomp? Don’t you get tired of always falling short of all the big companies? Why can’t you do anything new or exciting? Why are you crawling back to me anyway? Aren’t you living with that trophy girlfriend of yours?” she cackled.“Felicity is. . . . she left me,” Gyarados replied. Things hadn’t been the same since she disappeared from his life. Felicity inspired him and allowed him to set up his greatest plans. With her gone, his company was stumbling out of control.

“Well, I’m not going to just leave you out here,” mother replied. “Come in, and hopefully this time you won’t stay too long. You have a name to uphold, you know.”

As much as he hated to say it, she was right. Gyarados was tired, and knew that it wouldn’t be long before he’d retire the business altogether. He sat down on his old bed, the springs weak and rusted, as he attempted to formulate a plan for the future. If only I knew what was in store for me in the future, Mr. Gyardos pondered. I just want to come up Triumphant one last time. . .

Our chapter of the story is complete, but we still don’t know the ending!

As the story goes, Gyarados has always been stuck in the 4th-5th most wins slot. It’s a great contender, but has never been considered “BDIF”, and possibly never even “Tier 1” before. It’s not to say he hasn’t had success, but he’s just not a deck that you mutter things like “that’s so broken,” or “what a cheap deck.” It’s been stuck in the “good deck with a few obstacles” description for about a year and a half now. Check out these statistics:

(Masters statistics only)

Worlds 2009: 5th place—only Gyarados to top cut
Battle Roads Autumn 2009: 3rd most wins `
Cities 09/10: 4th most wins
States 10: Tied for 7th with 1 win
Regionals 10: 1 win, handful of top cuts
Nationals: Tied for 5th with 6 top cuts
Worlds: 2 appearances in top 32
Battle Roads Autumn 2010: 6th most wins

gyarados-stormfront-sf-19pokemon-paradijs.comGyarados is a great deck (after all, placing consistently in the top 5 decks doesn’t make you bad at all!), but he has trouble at the upper level events. Gyarados had a particularly bad showing at States with just 1 win, and his Nationals and Worlds numbers weren’t the best, either. Take away his main draw engine and discarding ability (Felicity’s Drawing) for this format, and it’s down to the 6th place slot.

But the question remains—does the fact that it has dropped to 6th place mean that it’s not a good deck anymore, OR—does the fact that it’s STILL in 6th place without a crucial card mean that it still has big potential?

Our new set Triumphant has more cards in it to benefit Gyarados than any other deck—it’s very possible that Gyarados is more competitive than it ever has been before—my testing with it so far at least reveals that it’s a very powerful contender—and it’s definitely worth looking into—especially if you’re interested in mastering Gyarados’ new build before the craze catches on.

Remember the first Vilegar decks that sprouted up at Battle Roads? Or how about the first lists that ran Smeargle UD in them? Not only did they surprise the players that were unprepared for them, but they offered matchups that simply hadn’t been tested as much as, say, the SP mirror. While Gyarados doesn’t change an obscene amount over his previous builds, knowing the new engine to support him is a huge step toward getting a handle on the Triumphant-On metagame.

When I wrote my “The Bible on Luxchomp” article, I wrote it in the format that I love giving for articles—a skeleton list with a plethora of options for you to build your own list from my suggestions. However, Luxchomp’s “skeleton” lead for about 17 cards that you can swap in and out. When I tried making a skeleton for Gyarados, this happened:

Pokémon – 14

4 Magikarp SF
3 Gyarados SF
4 Smeargle UD/Sableye SF
2 Uxie LA
1 Regice LA

Trainers – 16

4 Pokémon Collector
3 Bebe’s Search


2 Junk Arm
2 Pokémon Rescue

1 Luxury Ball


4 Broken Time-Space

Energy – 3

3 Rescue

Total: 33 cards

Now I’m obviously missing plenty of cards that are sure-fire important additions to the deck, but the idea of a skeleton is that it contains all cards that are ABSOLUTELY needed. There’s a LOT of different things you can do to your Gyarados deck to personalize it. It’s probably not an overstatement to say that there are 30+ different cards that you can fit in this space. Instead, I’ll give you the current list I’m working with, and then highlight several matchups and the different things you can do to grab an advantage against your metagame.

Let’s do it!

J-Wittz’s Triumphant-On Gyarados List:

Pokémon – 21

2 Sableye SF
2 Smeargle UD
4 Magikarp SF
3 Gyarados SF
1 Dialga G
1 Dialga G LV.X
1 Combee SF
2 Uxie LA
1 Regice LA
1 Unown Q MD
2 Crobat G
1 Azelf LA

Trainers – 33

4 Pokémon Collector
3 Bebe’s Search

3 Seeker
2 Volkner’s Philosophy


4 Super Scoop Up

3 Junk Arm
3 Poké Turn
2 Expert Belt
2 Pokémon Rescue

2 Pokémon Communication
1 Luxury Ball


4 Broken Time-Space

Energy – 6

3 Warp
3 Rescue

My list definitely isn’t perfect, but I’ve done a solid amount of testing hours on the deck and it definitely has a high number of positive and neutral matchups.

Dear Reader, if you are not a beginner, feel free to skip this section until I say “you can come back now”. I’m just going to explain the basic strategy of the deck for a moment : P

Basic Strategy (for a moment!)– Use your discard options (Junk Arm, Regice’s Regi Move, and Volkner’s Philosophy) to get as many Magikarp into the discard while still being able to evolve one into a Gyarados, and then attack for the 0 energy “Tail Revenge” for 90 damage (plus 20 for Expert Belt and 10 for every Crobat G drop).

– Combined with Broken Time-Space and his zero energy attack, Gyarados is extremely easy to heal. A damaged Gyarados can be restored to full health with either a heads flip on Super Scoop Up, or by getting Gyarados to the bench with Warp Energy and picking him up with Seeker. A Gyarados in your hand can be played down to the bench immediately with Broken Time-Space, and you can then attack right away.

– Gyarados also possesses possibly the fastest recovery in the game. Pokémon Rescue, Combee SF, and the new Rescue Energy allow you to bring Gyarados back immediately after a knockout, and with Broken Time-Space in play, you can instantly jump back into the game.

You can come back now!

So here’s a runthrough of the list and why I made some of my choices:

2 Sableye SF, 2 Smeargle UD
These are your setup Pokémon—you hope to start with them and grab resources to discard magikarp quickly. Why 2/2? I feel that it is a perfect balance across your games to run an even amount of both. As many of you know, I currently use a 3-1 Smeargle/Sableye line in my Chenlock, but I’m still on the fence as to whether Smeargle or Sableye is better.

Smeargle, when paired with an opponent’s Pokémon Collector, allows you to do everything that you plan on doing with Sableye an entire turn faster (usually you grab a regice and two magikarp and discard them both with regi move right away). You can also grab an Unown Q to retreat Smeargle and then attack with Sableye—using both setup Pokémon in the same turn. While this doesn’t happen nearly as often as it does with Chenlock, the possibility is still open and has been used. Smearlge also allows you to set up very quickly going second—whereas Sableye forces you to go first.

Sableye, the deck’s original starter, is no slouch at all. Forcing yourself to go first can open yourself to a donk if you are the only basic Pokémon out there, but it also guarantees an early setup instead of the slight risk you take with Smeargle. In a deck where setting up is extremely important, I run boy Sableye and Smeargle to get the advantages of both sides. I’m sure plenty of purists could argue that by running 2-of each that my starts are a little unpredictable, but don’t mock running both until you’ve tried it! I haven’t been able to run straight Sableye since Smeargle UD has been released.

4 Magikarp
I really considered the modern metagame as well as the new rules (ability to take notes, 30+3 time system, etc) before making this decision. I know some people might run as few as 2 or 1, but my gut just says 4 is the right play.


3 Gyarados
sableye-stormfront-sf-48This play is actually one that you can debate. I’ve found that either 3 or 4 Gyarados are the most correct options. So why do I go 3 over 4?

A few reasons: first is that because you can (well, you should) only have 1 Gyarados on your field at a time, consistency of getting Gyarados out is almost a non-issue. He doesn’t work the way Kingdra or Gyarados do, where you set up as many of your 4 attackers as you can.

Another reason is the stellar healing. Once you get that first Gyarados out, chances are that it won’t die without taking a few prizes and healing with Super Scoop up/Seeker. During this time you’ll keep reusing the same Gyarados.

And finally, the factor of Rescue Energy plays a big role. In the past, using Pokémon Rescue/Combee was only for grabbing the discarded Magikarp after a KO, but you still had to fish out the Gyarados from your deck to complete the recovery. With Rescue Energy, if one of your Gyarados is Knocked Out by damage from an attack, BOTH the Magikarp and the Gyarados will come back to your hand. This keeps a single copy of Gyarados running longer than ever before you have to search through your deck for one.

4 Gyarados is still a good play, and it allows you to start with him in your opening hand more often, which requires less search before you get your first sea monster out. I recommend testing 4 first and then cutting it to 3 and seeing if you feel the difference. If you don’t, stick with 3!

1/1 Dialga G LV.X
These cards are solely for the counter of Vilegar, and I’ll discuss them in the Matchups and Playstyle section in the next part of the article!

1 Combee SF
This selection is also for the Vilegar matchup, but he provides a universal usage (so why don’t I just talk about him now?). Combee’s “Honey” ability is very unique in that it is one of the few (honestly, the only) “item/ability/whatever-you-want-to-call-it” that is played in the competitive Pokémon TCG. This fact is actually very important—it means that combee works through both trainer lock and power lock (and no fear of power spray, too!).

Honey also functions as a searchable Pokémon Rescue, which can lead to a crucial revival of Gyarados in situations where you have no card to bring him back, and had no rescue energy attatched.

2 Uxie LA
Very standard draw here. Almost every deck runs 2 Uxie—it just provides fast draw when you need it. I’ve heard suggestions of running Uxie LV.X in this deck because of the Unown Q and high Warp Energy count that I run, but I’m not sold on it yet.

1 Regice LA
regice-legends-awakened-la-36There is a funny dynamic between this card and its players—they either love it or hate it. I’m a lover, and longtime player of Gyarados last year Adam Capriola is a hater. Since he provides my paycheck, I am contractually obliged to say that Adam ran heavy Felicity’s Drawing, as well as a Lunatone/Solrock combo for discard, and his disdain for Regice is normal.

So why do I risk the chance of poverty, starvation, and overall hatred of self by disobeying Adam? Well, the first reason is that Regice is your fastest searchable discard of ‘Karps available. It’s so common and simple to grab Regice and 2 ‘Karp from a Collector and begin a fast discard.

The second reason is the switching ability that happens if your opponent’s Pokémon is basic (if your opponent’s Pokémon is evolved, you can still discard 2 cards with no additional effect). When you Regi Move, you force your opponent to play the equivalent of half of a Warp Point (or a Cyclone Energy on your part) and switch their active Pokémon to the bench. SOMETIMES this can be a bad thing, because you’re stuck between discarding to start up an attacker but at the same time wanting to attack whoever they have active, but most of the time this helps you. Forcing your opponent to pick a Pokémon from the bench often gives you a small HP support Pokémon for an easy KO.

The third reason is because of the presence of Vilegar in most local metagames. Vilegar is your worst matchup, and using Regi Move to discard Trainer/Supporter cards to limit Gengar SF’s “Poltergeist” attack is crucial.

Regice is also a total fatty, and a painful target for Luxray GL’s “Bright Look”, Blaziken FB’s “Luring Flame”, and cards with attacks that pull up a benched Pokémon in a similar fashion. Good thing we run a heavy Warp Energy/Super Scoop Up count!

1 Unown Q MD
This card allows you to retreat your setup Pokémon (Smeargle/Sableye), and also save your crap starts (Uxie, Azelf, Combee, etc.) by allowing a quick switch out. You run the risk of this card (WHOPPING 30 HP) being stuck as your sole active Pokémon to start, but the benefits have been proven to outweigh the risk.

2 Crobat G PL
Crobat G + the Poké Turn that you run are one of your main ways to deal those extra damage counters needed to KO some heavier Pokémon (such as doing 90 + 2 Flash Bites to 1HKO a Luxray/Garchomp/Blaziken GL/C/FB LV.X). At 80 HP plus the bonus of free retreat, they also function as a pretty decent starter!

1 Azelf LA
azelf-legends-awakened-la-19While I argue an Azelf in every deck, Gyarados is probably THE deck where not running Azelf is inexcusable. While searching a prized Gyarados/Uxie is nice, recovering a prizes Magikarp is SO important. With 1 Prized, you’re limiting yourself at 30 less damage for the entire game until you can pull him out. Get 2 ‘Karps prized and you’re really going to have to get creative. Super Scoop Up/Seeker on Azelf might be the right play for getting both out.

4 Pokémon Collector
Running 3 might be a good idea to save space, but getting a quick handful of ‘Karps, Regice, or any other basics that you need is too important in my mind to not run the maxiumum.

3 Bebe’s Search
Honestly, I’d like to run 4, but with space constraints 3 is running okay. It’s your best card to grab your Gyarados, and for that matter, it can grab any Pokémon you need out of your deck. I’d never run less than 3, and try to fit 4 if possible. Its versatility makes it a crucial supporter.

2 Volkner’s Philosophy
This is the card I question most in the deck. My first testing with it ran 4 copies, then I cut it to 3, and now I finally have it to 2. I might cut it altogether if I find myself setting up without them.

The idea behind Volkner is to fill the void lost by Felicity. Unfortunately, Volkner isn’t even close. First of all, you can only discard 1 card. Discarding a ‘Karp is fine and dandy, but it’s only useful if you do it on the first few turns. By turn 2-4, Regice will have already dumped all of your Magikarp.

Another problem is that you cannot play the card if you can’t draw any cards. With all of the Smeargle and Sableye along with cards to fill your hand, I’ve found myself unable to use Volkner a few times when I wanted another ‘Karp in the discard.

Volkner still helps build small hands and boost consistency, but he’s on the red list right now. Chances are high I’ll cut him, but try him out for yourself first—plenty of good Gyarados players still recommend 4.

3 Seeker
Remember the SixPrizes Round Table where almost everyone was basically worshipping this card? Here’s one great reason why—Seeker is incredible in Gyarados, and a TON of players on forums hyping Gyarados aren’t even using it! Seeker allows instant healing of Gyarados after a Warp Energy. It’s basically an auto-heads Super Scoop Up, which is huge.

seeker-triumphant-tm-88It also lets you replay your Uxie, Azelf, Combee, Crobat, and even Regice if you have to. Using it to pick up Regice to prevent it from remaining a threat to drag up isn’t even a bad idea. You can also use it to cut your opponent’s 2 Pokémon field to 1 and win the game. There’s just so much good in this card that I’m on the verge of adding my 4th to the deck. It’s amazing, and you’ll agree with me too as son as you test it.

4 Broken Time-Space
I won’t even budge on this one, 4 is the correct play. You need BTS for your fast setup, healing, and recovery. If you draw extras, just dump them with Regice or Junk Arm and be happy that you already have one in play!

3 Junk Arm
This is the other huge card from Triumphant that Gyarados loves. It provides you with quick Magikarp discard right away, even before you even need to get Regice if it’s in your opening hand. It also allows you to replay Pokémon Rescue, Expert Belt, Super Scoop Up, Poké Turn, etc.—so it’s also an extremely good play even after you have all the ‘Karps you need in Davy Jones’ Locker.

The only reason I don’t run 4 is that there are times early game where you have no Trainers to discard to play Junk Arm in the first place. Otherwise though, it’s an absolute gem.

3 Poké Turn
This is for reusing Crobat G’s and the rare occasion that you need to move Dialga G/Dialga G LV.X. Some players might argue 4, but I argue that the 3 Junk Arm makes 3 Poké Turn a fine play without sacrificing extra damage output.

4 Super Scoop Up
You can argue that with Seeker, Super Scoop Up isn’t NEEDED anymore, but I believe that SSU is even more amazing alongside Seeker as opposed to running one or the other. Read all of the things that Seeker does except the part at the end about limiting your opponent’s field. Now flip a coin, if heads, do that.

Running 4 offsets the random chance of the card, and the fact that it is Junk Arm compatible is another great bonus.

2 Expert Belt
expert-belt-arceus-ar-87This is a card that turns a beast into a … beastlier beast (ooh that was horrible). With it, Gyarados upgrades to 150 HP and a 110 damage attack with 3 ‘Karp in the discard. With all the healing the deck runs, you shouldn’t fear giving up the 2 Prizes too often, either. 110 damage is the sweet spot for most SP Level X’s, and allowing Gyarados to wall even more can give you the winning edge in games that could have been closer.

3 Expert Belt could also be a correct play to increase your chance of drawing into it, but I’ve found 2 to be a good number to run without sacrificing consistency or slots for more important cards.

2 Pokémon Rescue
This is a card that used to be a 4-of staple in Gyarados, but I’ve cut my numbers because of the advent of Rescue Energy. Pokémon Rescue still offers fine recovery from a knockout on Gyarados, and once again, being Junk Arm compatible helps you not even miss the extra 2 Pokémon Rescues that you might have used to run.

2 Pokémon Communication/1 Luxury Ball
These cards are Trainer search—they’re amazing for pulling out a quick Gyarados while still being allowed to use your Supporter for the turn. Luxury ball lets you search for everything except Dialga G LV.X (so I guess you can argue running a 3rd Communication instead, I just like Luxury Ball because there is no cost) and Communication acts very closely as a Bebe’s search.

My 2-1 line is actually a little low, and if I cut the Volkner at least 1 slot will probably go into the Communication.

3 Warp Energy
This might sound a little high, but with some of the cards that I’m playing, the high count is needed. Warp energy does all this:

– Allows the gyarados switch you need before you Seeker
– Lets you retreat any Pokémon to the bench, especially a Regice that was pulled up
– Has a neat combo where you can play Smeargle’s “Portrait” Poké-Power (with an Unown Q attatched) right after you make your switch with Warp Energy—you can still retreat with Smeargle because Warp Energy isn’t your retreat for the turn.

3 Rescue Energy
rescue-energy-triumphant-tm-90-ptcgo-1The final additive from Triumphant, Rescue Energy offers amazing recovery on your Gyarados, and forces your opponent to Knock you Out with an effect of an attack if they want to avoid your instant recovery of Gyarados. I’d argue that recovery energy suits Gyarados better than anyone else. Running 4 is something that I’ve tried before, but for space constraints I found my recovery to be just fine with just 3 (you still have Combee and 2 Pokémon Rescue, too).

So that’s my explanation on each card! As I’ve said, there are a ton of other options for this deck, such as:

Call Energy
Luxray GL LV.X
Warp Point
Pokémon Reversal
Blissey PL
Cyclone Energy
Black Belt

And the list goes on and on. I’ll be happy to explain why I didn’t chose the card that I’ve left out in the forums, just ask if you’re curious! But let’s move on to the last part of the deck analysis, the matchups and playstyles to beat those matchups:

Matchups (and How To Play Them)

Near auto-Wins:

Donphan (10th most Battle Roads Wins) and Machamp (5th most Battle Roads Wins):
These decks just don’t stand a chance—of they don’t donk you, you basically win. The Fighting resistance puts you at a huge competitive edge, and you even have x2 Water weakness versus Donphan. This could be very good for you—especially because the new Machamp Prime will inspire an increase in Machamp play. No advice needed on these ones.

It’s also interesting to note that Gyarados is one of the few decks whose main attacker is entirely unaffected by Umbreon Prime.

Decent Games (fluctuate around 50-50):

Dialgachomp (2nd most Battle Roads Wins):
dialga-g-platinum-pl-7An early Dialga start with “Deafen” can become a problem because of your Trainer and Stadium reliance, but for the most part this becomes a very competitive match (you can still Regi Move to get Dialga out of the way and hopefully prevent Deafens, too, or you can just set up slowly because they’re only doing 10 damage each turn).

There are no techs to this matchup, just experience and consistency. You both have similar goals in mind. They want you to damage Dialga so that they can Warp Energy/Garchomp C or Poké Turn to heal while sniping your bench. You want them to hit Gyarados so you can Warp Energy + Seeker or Super Scoop Up to heal.

In fact, if you know your opponent is just going to tank and heal with Dialga, you’ll learn that Regice becomes an all-star. Your opponent will feed you a lot of cheap prizes off their bench if they don’t play carefully around “Regi Move”, and I’ve won plenty of my games with this strategy alone.

One thing to be careful for is that if Dialga removes your Rescue Energy to the Lost Zone with his attack, I don’t believe that you get the instant recovery. Despite this, the matchup is very close, and I doubt I’d give either side a matchup percentage very different than 50-50.

Sablock Variants (4th most Battle Road Wins):
This game relies on a lot of consistency factors, such as how good/bad your start is, and how good/bad theirs is. It sounds like common sense, but the first few turns can determine your entire game. Sablock can always win versus a bad start with Cyrus’s Initiative/Judge/Chatot G early game, so just expect that. If you’re absolutely paranoid about the deck, max out on your Bebe/Communication/any other search cards you can instead of your tech space.

Otherwise, as soon as you are able to get setup, dealing with you can be quite the hurdle for them. The most they deal to you is 80 damage with Garchomp C LV.X, which can be easily healed, and leaves their own attacker open for KOs. In fact, they’ll probably be trying to score as many knockouts on your bench as they can—often playing a smaller bench to prevent this can win you games—when your opponent is playing against just a gyarados and nothing more, they really run out of options for taking prizes.

I beat my Regionals Gyarados opponent in top cut at MO Regionals last year by never attacking his Gyarados once and collecting as many cheap prizes as I could. I also beat Brian Bray of in a similar fashion, although I did KO Gyarados once because I knew his hand was small and lacking of recovery options. But if I ever had to deal with a limited bench, I probably couldn’t have won.

Blaziken FB Variants including Blaziken/Luxray/Garchomp (9th most Battle Roads Wins) and Chenlock (7th Most Battle Roads Wins):
This matchup plays exactly the same as their matchups as listed, plus an added factor for Blaziken. Basically, your strategy is the same as it would have been for Luxchomp/Sablock, but preparing for Blaziken FB becomes an added factor.

Players will want to pull up your Regice with Luring Flame and leave you stuck while they snipe around him with Garchomp. Keep this in mind at all times, and be careful with your Warp Energies and Super Scoop Ups before you use them—conserve your resources in case of emergency!

It’s also smart to build up Gyarados WITHOUT Regice if possible through Volkner’s/Junk Arm—if you do so you’ll never have to think about the possible problem of Luring Flame. While Blaziken FB LV.X can Jet Shoot you for 80 damage, his Water weakness makes him easily KO’d by a Tail Revenge, even with just 2 Magikarp in the discard.

Slightly Unfavorable Matchups:

Luxchomp (1st most wins in everything ever):
luxray-gl-rising-rivals-rr-9Luxchomp is the deck to beat still, and Gyarados’ weakness is put to the test here. If your opponent doesn’t play Lucario (which in my opinion would be a bad play with all the Machamp, but I’ve seen it happen a lot!), then your matchup is possibly in your favor. However, if they do, then it becomes a more complex game.

Because both of you are struggling to get the resources to KO each other (you’re both just a little short of the 1HKO), extra factors like Crobat G’s and Expert Belts come into play. To KO you, Luxray GL LV.X either needs:

1. Energy for Flash Impact (1 Lightning + 1 Colorless), Lucario GL on the bench and one Crobat G Flash Bite

2. Energy for Trash Bolt (can be used with just basic Luxray GL—the cost is 1 Lightning and 2 Colorless, along with discarding an Energy from your hand), Lucario GL on the bench

Both options require a little bit of searching, but aren’t out of their reach entirely.

To KO their Luxray GL Level X, you need:

1. 3 Magikarp in the discard + Expert Belt
2. 3 Magikarp in the discard + 2 Flash Bites

Also not too hard to obtain either. They have a slight advantage in that they can Power Spray your Crobat drops, but you also have the advantage in that they need extra resources to KO you with Expert Belt attached, such as:

1. Energy for Flash Impact + Lucario GL + 3 Flash Bites
2. Energy for Trash Bolt + Lucario GL + 1 Flash Bite

Your opponent has a limited amount of Poké Turns, and so do you. You also have the ability to super scoop up/seeker crobats, but they can always just ignore your Gyarados and follow the cheap prizes routine with Garchomp and Luxray. Did I mention that it’s a challenging matchup? It might be hard to know when the time is right for dropping an Expert Belt, or what methods to use to score KOs on SP Level Xs, but trust me, it will all come in time of practice.

I think the very worst this matchup could be is 40-60, and you can help support this deficit through practice or techs. Techs that I have seen are a 1-1 or greater Donphan Prime line + at least 1 F Energy, Mankey SV (one shots Luxray for 1 Fighting), and Relicanth SV, who can snipe as well as 1-shot Luxray. I believe that unteched, it’s a very winnable game, just maybe not favorable.

BAD Matchups:

Vilegar (3rd most Battle Roads wins):
gengar-stormfront-sf-18Vilegar is ugly. Here’s what they’ve got on you:

– Trainer Lock prevents some of your recovery, your engine, your tools, and also increases the damage a Gengar SF can do to you with Poltergeist. You also have no way to KO Vileplume unless you run Luxray GL LV.X, whom I don’t recommend over the cards that you could instead of him.

– Your benched Pokémon like Uxies, Azelf, Regice, and Smeargle make for excellent Shadow Room targets.

– Unless you play it for a knockout over the course of 2 turns, you must play into Gengar’s “Fainting Spell” most of the time. Leaving your death to coin flip is not only unwanted, but if you die via Fainting Spell and you have a Rescue Energy attached, you don’t get the revival effect.

– If they KO you without a Rescue Energy/without activating Rescue Energy, your ONLY way to recover will be Combee.

These are all tough scenarios to deal with, but you can circumvent some of them by running the 1-1 Dialga G LV.X line I talked about earlier. With Warp Energy, Dialga flies to the bench after being leveled up, and shuts down the Poké-Bodies of Vileplume and Spiritomb—allowing you to dump your Trainer cards. You can also suppress Gengar SF’s power of Poltergeist by dumping your extra Trainers with Regice’s “Regi Move”.

Without the Combee, you can lose some games as soon as the second Gyarados hits the grave. To deal with Fainting Spell, you can hit for 90 in one turn and drop 2 Flash Bites or use Uxie LA to “Psychic Restore” to the bottom on the next, which will KO Gyarados without setting off Fainting Spell.

All in all, It’s a bad matchup. With Dialga and experience, the percentages probably climb to 40-60 in their favor, which are odds that I am satisfied with.

So… is Gyarados “The play”? Why or why not?

Well, to be honest, I don’t see gyarados dethroning the established top tier of SP decks, but it at least contends with SP pretty well. The Vilegar weaknesses will stifle its power in many areas, but everywhere else, it’ll be a very intimidating deck. He plays a solid game versus SP decks while still having good games against almost the entire rest of the field. The strong Machamp matchup is also a great plus—Machamp’s perceived increase in play could warrant Gyarados as a good play in areas that are full of just SP and Machamp.

On a local level, if you don’t see much Vilegar, go Gyarados. He has amazing matchups against the field if you have no Vilegar to deal with, and he’ll help you toward a great start to the cities season.

If Vilegar is a big thing in your area though, I might pursue other versatile options, such as Dialgachomp, Luxchomp, or a Sablock variant.

Unfortunately, because of Vilegar having such a positive matchup, I could easily see Gyarados being stuck in the number 4-5 spot on a national scale again, possibly 3rd, but not likely. However, your local metagame is much more important to note over the National metagame right now, so keep that in mind!

Gyarados is a great deck that just got greater, and he has a lot going for him. He’s pretty inexpensive to build, fun, heavy-hitting, and one of the 2 best non-SP lists to run out there (the other being Vilegar).

I hope you enjoyed my article, and I hope you enjoy Gyarados! Have an amazing weekend, and don’t be afraid to ask me questions as they pop into your head! Enjoy Underground!


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