How to School the Competition – Gyarados

Welcome to the next part in my How to School the Competition series. For part 3, I decided to focus on Gyarados.

pokebeach.comGyarados was a nearly unknown deck until it made it to the top 16 at Worlds 2009. After that, people went crazy over Gyarados, looking for the Worlds list and trying to get any information they could about it. Apart from placing second in the Seniors Division and a Regionals win, it didn’t do that great last year.

However, most players believe that Gyarados, along with newly released cards such as Junk Arm and Rescue Energy, now has a chance to do some serious damage. Without further ado, here is my take on how to play Gyarados:

Note: I know that a lot of players are asking for articles aimed at more advanced players, but I hope this article is one that can help out players of all ranks, including more experienced ones.

Gyarados

Versus LuxChomp
LuxChomp generally has an edge over Gyarados, mainly because it can hit you for weakness with Luxray GL LV.X. So, in order to regain that edge, you will need to know what you’re up against, what tactics your opponent will try to use against you, and what tactics you yourself should be using.

pokebeach.comLuxChomp’s easiest way to 1HKO you is to use Luxray GL + Lucario GL + “Flash Bite”, which, unfortunately, is a very effective tactic. First things first though, watch your Expert Belt drops. Even though you can use things like Super Scoop Up and Seeker to rescue your Gyarados, there are a few things you need to remember. Super Scoop up is not a guaranteed thing; even if you have 2 to 3 in your hand, there still is a chance that you’ll whiff on a heads. While that is unlikely, it still is possible, which means it’s something you need to prepare for. Secondly, if your opponent 1HKOs you, those scoop up cards don’t do much.

There is a time when playing Expert Belt is a smart and necessary thing to do in this match, allowing you to reach the magic 110 damage, but you will need to learn when that time is.

Your greatest strength is swarming out main attackers faster than they can. If you’re facing a good player, they should know this and will avoid KOing Gyarados like the Mafia avoids the cops. One strategy that can be effective is to use your SSU/Seeker to pick up your vulnerable benched Pokémon, making it much more difficult for your opponent to avoid your Gyarados.

So, you’re probably thinking, “What do I do then?” Scoop up Regice. A common move LuxChomp players will use is to “Bright Look” a Regice on your bench active and use Garchomp C LV.X to snipe around it. There will be times when its Poké-Power could help you against SP, but I ask that you think really hard about putting Regice in play unless you have a few Warp Energy/Warp Point to switch out Regice or 2+ SSU/Seeker in your hand.

pokemon-paradijs.comVersus VileGar
This is a difficult matchup for Gyarados for a lot of reasons, but the biggest ones are Trainer-lock and “Fainting Spell”. Not to fear, there are some things that you can do and remember that will give you a fighting chance. However, many of the anti-VileGar tactics are situational, meaning that they’ll only be useful at certain times in the game. On the bright side, very few of these require you to change your list to use them, which allows you to use your space for teching against other matches or making your deck more consistent.

A common thing that Gyarados players will do with a Sableye start is use it to “Impersonate” a Pokémon Collector for two Magikarp and a Regice to discard them. This move is especially effective early game against a Spiritomb start, because, with “Regi Move”, you force them to switch their Spiritomb with a benched Pokémon, giving you a turn to play Trainers, which should help to give you a fighting chance.

However, this play has two downfalls. First of all, it only works against a Spiritomb-lock, not a Gastly one. Secondly, if your opponent has two Spiritomb in play, they’ll just bring up another one, making your effort to escape the lock useless. So, while it’s not a surefire thing, it is a situational way to get a turn that you can use Trainers.

pokemon-paradijs.comLike I stated in my LuxChomp article, the standard ways to avoid “Fainting Spell” are Crobat G, Uxie, or perhaps Promocroak, which, odds are, you’re playing at least the first two and perhaps even the third one. However, you do have one advantage with Crobat G that a lot of decks don’t, and that’s being able to reuse “Flash Bite” with Seeker, which is a supporter and thus can be used under Trainer-lock.

Also, like the LuxChomp matchup, you need to be very careful about playing Expert Belt onto Gyarados because, if they KO it or get heads on “Fainting Spell”, your opponent will get one extra Prize card. I’m not saying don’t use it, I’m saying you typically don’t want to attach Expert Belt and then go and risk a “Fainting Spell” flip.

As for “Poltergeist”, your biggest advantage is having 130 HP, meaning they’ll require you to have 5 Trainers/Supporters/Stadiums to be in your hand or 4 along with a Crobat G drop. The typical counter, Bebe’s Search, can be used in a 3 to 4 count here, which is a nice benefit.

Since this is a Gyarados deck, you will most likely be playing Regice, which not only is good early-game (explained a few paragraphs up), but it is extremely useful late-game because you can drop up to two Trainers each turn, which should make it nearly impossible for your opponent to 1HKO you.

With that being said, I bring you to my next point: stop 1HKOs. Like I stated above, a big challenge for this deck can be avoiding “Fainting Spell”. If you can make sure they’re unable to 1HKO Gyarados, it helps to soften the blow of losing a Gyarados to “Fainting Spell” as you will hopefully be ahead on prizes.

Keep your bench as target-free as possible. Gengar’s first attack, “Shadow Room”, will be able to KO Azelf and Uxie (with a “Flash Bite”), so you will want to be very careful when placing them on the bench without a way to add them back to your hand.

Finally, I strongly recommend playing at least three Rescue Energy, or four if possible. Since your Trainers will be locked, your Pokémon Rescue will be useless, and this will be your best way to recover Magikarp from your discard pile.

pokegym.netVersus DialgaChomp
Some people think that this is a difficult matchup. Frankly, I’m not quite sure why. However, despite my opinions, here’s how to make sure this match favors you.

One very important thing to remember is Dialga G and Garchomp C LV.X’s damage output is usually capped at 80 damage, which is far from Gyarados’s 130 HP. This is a huge edge and will allow you to use Expert Belt with a lot less risk involved. This is very important as it will allow you to 1HKO Garchomp C LV.X. Depending on how many Special M Energy are involved, you may be able to 1HKO Dialga G LV.X with the aid of one or two “Flash Bite”.

Unlike LuxChomp, which excels at sniping your bench, DialgaChomp will be forced to charge into Gyarados a large portion of the time. This means that all of your Gyarados recovery can be used to their full effect.

Rescue Energy, which was brought to us along with the rest of Triumphant, is one of the best ways to recover Gyarados. However, Dialga G LV.X’s “Remove Lost” attack has the ability to send Rescue Energy to the Lost Zone, thus negating its effect and leaving your KO’d Gyarados and Magikarp in your discard pile.

pokegym.netObviously, the best way to recover Gyarados in this matchup is to use Pokémon Rescue and Combee. However, if you find that the only recovery card you have is Rescue Energy, there’s something you need to remember when facing a Dialga G LV.X: don’t place Rescue Energy on a full HP Gyarados.

You see, “Remove Lost” does 80 damage, which means they can only 2HKO you. Each time they use “Remove Lost”, they get to flip until they get tails. If you attach it right away, they have a 75% chance of removing Rescue Energy. However, if you wait a turn until its HP is within KO range, they have only a 50% chance. While this situation is not ideal, you will sometimes find yourself in it, so I think it’s a good idea to be aware of this. It seems obvious, but I’m constantly surprised at how many people forget it.

Versus Mirror
The Gyarados mirror match can be a tricky as it is usually decided by whoever gets the fastest start. While each deck’s start is obviously important, you will need to know how to play the match when it’s Gyarados versus Gyarados. If both decks get about the same start, it then becomes a competition of who can consistently have a Gyarados ready to attack each turn. There are a few ways to turn the Gyarados matchup in your favor.

If you avoid attacking Gyarados, hitting a benched Pokémon can be a great idea. For every Pokémon you KO on their bench, it’s one less Gyarados you need to beat. A good card to do this is Pokémon Reversal. If you prefer to avoid more coin flips, Poké Blower + would work as well.

pokebeach.comExpert Belt can be a great tool for 1HKOing an opposing Gyarados (along with two “Flash Bites”: 90 + 20 + 10 + 10 = 130). However, if you lose a Gyarados with an Expert Belt attached, you will often lose because of it. Make sure you have a way to save your Gyarados if you use an Expert Belt.

Disrupting your opponent can be a great idea as well. If you are able to leave them without a way to recover a Gyarados for even one turn, it can be a great help to you. Perhaps the best way to do this is playing 2 Looker’s Investigation, which you can use to refresh your hand or disrupt your opponent’s. However, you should only do this when the opposing Gyarados doesn’t have a Rescue Energy attached, as that will allow them to recover the Gyarados.

Finally, I personally like the card Twins. Even though you have to be losing for it to be useful, it can often turn the game around. If you get a slower start than your opponent, it is a great way to get those last cards you need to get going.

Versus Machamp
Before Triumphant, you would be very happy being paired against a Machamp deck. Unless they can get the donk, you had just been handed an auto-win. However, with the release of Triumphant came Machamp Prime. While that card still doesn’t make this an unfavorable matchup for you, you will now need to be a bit more careful.

First off, you should note that once you get a Gyarados set up Machamp SF is nearly useless. However, Machamp Prime is the problem as you cannot 1HKO them. On the bright side, they cannot 1HKO you either. Describing this match won’t take long as there isn’t really anything you need to do that any good Gyarados player doesn’t already know and try to do each match. Just keep a string of Gyarados to overwhelm your opponent.

pokegym.netMost of the time, your opponent will use its second attack to do 100+ damage to you. However, unless they can add another 50 damage, they won’t be able to 1HKO you. The biggest annoyance in this matchup would be Machamp’s first attack, which discards Special Energy, namely Rescue Energy. Much of the time, you won’t be using Rescue Energy to revive your Gyarados. Instead, you’ll be using it for Retreat Cost or something like that.

There is one way that Rescue Energy can be beneficial to you though. If your opponent uses “Champ Buster” and only does 100 damage (not as uncommon as you’d think, especially if they don’t play Donphan Prime), attach Rescue Energy to it. Your opponent will then have three options:
– Kill it with Champ Buster, which will let you rescue Gyarados.
– Discard the Special Energy but let your Gyarados stand for another turn.
– Figure out some other way to add 10 damage to it.

While the latter situation will be the most common, I felt that this situation is something to note. If you play smart and are conservative with your resources, you shouldn’t have much trouble winning this match.

Reader Interactions

27 replies

  1. Dakota Streck

    @pikkdogs “Wouldn’t Crushing Punch knock out Gyarados after a Champ Buster? That’s a minimum of 160 damage”

    No, it wouldn’t because Gyarados has a -20 Fighting Resistance, meaning it’s only a minimum of 120 damage.

  2. Jordan Baker

    Listen if you play in an area that has a huge Gyrados metagame think about trying something like this. Tech in Miasma Valley and Skarmory FB. Miasma Valley puts 20 damage counter on magikarp when it is played to the bench. Skarmory FB does the same, if you used Silver Feather the previous turn.

    Magikarp would be dead before they could ever evolve to Gyrados. I don’t know how easy this would be to set up, but it’s worth testing out.

    Does anybody know of a pokemon with a body or power that places damage counters on pokemon played to the bench? I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but there might be an even easier way to do this.

    • Tonu Taitto  → Jordan

      Gyarados players BTS and Combee can easily bypass this combo. If they can get another BTS, the Miasma Will get discarded and Magikarp only takas 20 damage. Other way to get Magikarp in play is to drop down Combee SF. Its honey item allows you to put a Basic Pokémon (Magikarp in this example) on your bench. Because of Magikarp isn’t coming from your hand, it doesn’t take any damage.

      Try Absol swarm and Metagross SV. This combo makes Magikarps HP to 10 and Absol Primes power puts 20 on it if he plays Basic on to his bench from his hand. This can still be outplayed with Combee, and makes your main attacker’s HP down to 60 (unless it’s Hit&Run deck).

    • Anonymous  → Jordan

      Don’t forget praying. Praying is a huge part of this stratgey since its about the only way that your opponent is never going to hit a BTS

  3. Jordan Baker

    Listen if you play in an area that has a huge Gyrados metagame think about trying something like this. Tech in Miasma Valley and Skarmory FB. Miasma Valley puts 20 damage counter on magikarp when it is played to the bench. Skarmory FB does the same, if you used Silver Feather the previous turn.

    Magikarp would be dead before they could ever evolve to Gyrados. I don’t know how easy this would be to set up, but it’s worth testing out.

    Does anybody know of a pokemon with a body or power that places damage counters on pokemon played to the bench? I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but there might be an even easier way to do this.

  4. Anonymous

    “Gyarados was a nearly unknown deck until it made it to the top 16 at Worlds 2009. After that, people went crazy over Gyarados, looking for the Worlds list and trying to get any information they could about it. Apart from placing second in the Seniors Division and a Regionals win, it didn’t do that great last year.”

    I try really hard to not be that guy that just stragiht up bashes articles because I know they take time to write but you did almost no fact checking here. Gyarados got Top 8 in 2009 Worlds losing only to getting donked last round of swiss by a Sabyle and Stephen Silvestro with Beedril. A match up IMO is still very close, Stephen won Game 1, and Game 2 Fabien Gariner (creator from France I believe) needed to hit one of 3 SSU to pick up a Bat for the last 10 damage and the game but in one turn missed all 3. As far as Gyarados doing “nothing” last year. Hell it got Top 8 Worlds Masters, 2nd at Worlds Seniors, 3rd at Worlds Juniors, 4th at Worlds Juniors. I would call 4 out of 12 a pretty good record.

    • Dakota Streck  → Anonymous

      Yeah, I had forgotten about those. However, what I meant was overall throughout the year, in every level of tournaments, not just high or low. compared to decks like LuxChomp, it paled in comparison

    • Dakota Streck  → Anonymous

      Yeah, I had forgotten about those. However, what I meant was overall throughout the year, in every level of tournaments, not just high or low. compared to decks like LuxChomp, it paled in comparison

  5. Anonymous

    “Gyarados was a nearly unknown deck until it made it to the top 16 at Worlds 2009. After that, people went crazy over Gyarados, looking for the Worlds list and trying to get any information they could about it. Apart from placing second in the Seniors Division and a Regionals win, it didn’t do that great last year.”

    I try really hard to not be that guy that just stragiht up bashes articles because I know they take time to write but you did almost no fact checking here. Gyarados got Top 8 in 2009 Worlds losing only to getting donked last round of swiss by a Sabyle and Stephen Silvestro with Beedril. A match up IMO is still very close, Stephen won Game 1, and Game 2 Fabien Gariner (creator from France I believe) needed to hit one of 3 SSU to pick up a Bat for the last 10 damage and the game but in one turn missed all 3. As far as Gyarados doing “nothing” last year. Hell it got Top 8 Worlds Masters, 2nd at Worlds Seniors, 3rd at Worlds Juniors, 4th at Worlds Juniors. I would call 4 out of 12 a pretty good record.

  6. theo Seeds

    Great article thanks for giving it. This article can be beneficial because I’m hoping to get a cities trophy or something with Gyarados (I’m not going to settle for the Poliwag promo). I hope I can give you a little help on a deck you are trying to learn to play, because I’m good at a few decks myself.

    • Mário Faccini Junior  → theo

      Great article!!
      I wonder what your opinion on my platform, participate in a tournament this weekend and plan to use it:

      Pokemon – 20

      4 Magikarp SF
      3 Gyarados SF
      4 Sableye SF
      2 Crobat G PL
      1 Regice LA
      1 Azelf LA
      1 Skuntank G
      2 Uxie LA
      1 Combee
      1 Unown Q MD

      T/S/S – 35

      4 Broken Time-Space
      3 Pokemon Collector
      3 Bebe’s Search
      4 Poke Turn
      4 Poké Blower +
      2 Junk Arm
      3 Super Scoop Up
      2 Expert Belt
      2 Pokemon Communication
      1 Palmer’s
      1 Luxury Ball
      2 Seeker
      2 Volkner’s
      2 Pokemon Rescue

      Energy – 5

      2 Rescue Energy
      3 Warp Energy

      Thank’s

      • Garrett Williamson  → Mário

        Have you thought about trying maybe 3 sableye and 1 smeargle or 2-2 sableye smeargle? Sableye is reliable since you imoersonate for a collector but with gengar prime out now smeargle, although not as reliable but safer. If you impersonate for collector you get regice and 2 karp and on their turn they rare candy into gengar prime, attach 1 energy and lost zone a karp. That really hurts the deck. Because every deck runs 2-3 collector now there’s a chance the if you start with smeargle you can portrait one and get the karp discarded on your first turn and lose the risk of them getting lost zoned. Its just an idea though.

        • Will Youngblood  → Garrett

          however, if you start with smeargle and they have to supporters to get you a bunch of basics your in trouble. now your smeargle is stuck active or on the bench waiting to get shadow roomed by gengar. i doubt many players will tech a gengar prime, but if you know they do. just impersonate for hand refresh until you draw into a collector

        • Garrett Williamson  → Will

          Ya but like i said it was just an idea. But still the point was for karps not to be in your hand if they run gengar prime lol because impersonate still ends your turn and if you refresh your hand and draw into a karp there’s still that possibility. lol

        • Mário Faccini Junior  → Garrett

          In my region there are almost no players with gengar prime for this reason perhaps that’s not a big concern, but anyway thanks for the help.

  7. Joshua Pikka

    Wouldn’t “Crushing Punch” knock out Gyarados after a “Champ Buster?” Thats a minimum of 160 damage.

    • ostrigal ostrigal  → Joshua

      Gyarados has -20 resistance to fighting. Champ Buster would deal 80, Crushing Punch would deal 40.

  8. Michael Skoran

    Great article with a lot of insight on the deck. Against the Gengar/Vileplume matchup I recommend setting up 2 Gyarados hitting for 60 damage because it 2HKO’s a Gengar SF anyway and if they level up 2 Flash Bites will KO it without activating Feinting Spell.

  9. Perry Going

    dont forget if vilegar plays the prime all they have to do is get one knock out on a gary with the prime.. now Gyarados is hitting for only 60

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