Mike on the Metagame: Cities Week 1

Come one, come all, welcome to my new segment here on SixPrizes Underground, where I will be analyzing Cities from the week prior. In order to maximize the data that I’m going to be basing the articles off of, they are going to be released every Friday (hopefully) until Cities end in January.

Each article will cover a couple “base” points:

  • Which decks are performing well
  • Which decks aren’t performing so well
  • Reasons why decks are performing the way they are
  • Region-specific information
  • Predictions for the next week

Hopefully this can serve as a good resource for choosing what to play for your Cities each weekend and give you an idea of both national and local metagames. Unfortunately, data is not perfect and therefore there will be some error, and with me not being able to be at every single City Championship, the things that I say in the article might not be 100% accurate, but it should still have some validity to it. If people want to post information and data for me to work with as the City season progresses, that’d be phenomenal and it will help me to help you all!

So, without further ado, let us get into City Championships Week One!

City Championships are some of the most anticipated tournaments of the year, and for the right reason. They are the beginning of the competitive season and the first “real” set of tournaments that put players on track for a Worlds rating invite. Week one of Cities is usually very popular, with many players attending to get their feet wet with the new set, as it is the first true tournament where the Fall set is legal (and the first competitive tournament with the Summer set as well!).

The trend for many is to go into week one with a deck that the player is comfortable with. Generally, archetypes are played the most and therefore win the most. Rogues are certainly played, but for more rogues to succeed, a metagame needs to be established first.

Going into this year’s City Championships, there were pretty clearly a defined “top tier” of decks. I like to call them The Big 5 and that’s what they will be referred to for the rest of this series of articles. The Big 5 is defined as:

  1. Luxray/Garchomp aka Luxchomp
  2. Dialga/Garchomp aka Dialga
  3. Machamp SF/Prime aka Machamp
  4. Gengar/Vileplume aka Vilegar
  5. Gyarados aka Gyarados :P

Clearly these were the most powerful and popular decks in the format in testing for CCs, so logically they should be doing the best after week one. Well, let’s take a look at some results, shall we? These results are solely from US/Canada and from the Pokégym thread. It incorporates 26/48 of the week one CCs, and only the Masters division.

10 Luxchomp
6 Gyarados
4 Vilegar
3 Dialgachomp
3 Machamp

luxray-gl-lv.x-rising-rivals-rr-109pokemon-paradijs.comYes, you’re not reading that wrong. There were only five decks to win a City Championship week one. And what do you know? It’s The Big 5! Coincidence? I think not.

As I said before, players will generally take a consistent, proven deck into the first tournament of a series, as it is a guarantee that they can do “decent” at the very least. Some will do better than others, of course, and this leads to so many victories from the top decks. The most popular decks will win more often than the not-popular decks for the sole reason of sheer volume.

With that said, let’s analyze this list a bit further. Luxchomp is a defined winner over the rest with 10 wins. Why? Go read J-Witzz’s Bible on Luxchomp! It is piloted by some of the best players in the country, plus it has the ability to outright steal games it shouldn’t win. Half of the wins reported here were won by top players Jay Hornug, Chris Fulop, and Martin Moreno. It is the most versatile deck and therefore the easiest to outplay opponents with.

I am sure the lists varied greatly, and each person used their own lists to their own styles. This coupled with the fact that it is still the most established deck, as it’s been around for so long, inevitably led to the success of Luxchomp week one.

Though Luxchomp was the most winning deck this past week, Gyarados was a close second. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, Gyarados came out of the gates rearing and ready to win some tournaments. Triumphant added cards to help the deck in Junk Arm, Seeker, and Rescue Energy. With arguably its best SP matchup since its inception as a deck, Gyarados has become a very legitimate threat to the format.

While people were crying out for the brokenness of SP earlier, threads on Pokégym now are talking about how good Gyarados is. Is Gyarados the new best deck in the format? Week one results says not quite yet, but there are still plenty of weeks left for Gyarados to take the throne from Luxchomp.

Vilegar came out stronger than a lot of people expected. With two out of four of the wins reported above coming from Jimmy O’Brien, the deck clearly has a backing from elite players as well. What has let Vilegar be successful? First and foremost, the disruption the deck presents leaves any weaker player scratching their head, and there were definitely plenty of weaker players at week one of CCs.

The deck also, unlike the other top decks, hasn’t been around for very long, leading to less overall knowledge about how the deck runs and what the lists look like. A potentially strong Luxchomp and Gyarados matchup is certainly an appeal for Vilegar, but the lack of options and the straightforwardness of the deck is a possible deterrent.

Coming in last of The Big 5, Machamp and Dialgach’omp still showed significant successes. Two of Dialga’s three wins came from famed player Alex “BigChuck” Brosseau, who piloted the deck along with Jason “Ness” Klaczynski this weekend. Dialga has still made a nice splash in the format, but doesn’t have the backing and popularity it had during Battle Roads. It is still one of the hardest decks in the format to play, but boasts a solid matchup vs everything, with no auto-wins and no auto-losses.

Machamp, on the other hand, underperformed to many peoples’ expectations. With Gyarados and Vilegar being more prominent than initially thought, and SP being played less than any time since its inception, Machamp became a weaker choice. Still garnering a couple medals, it is still a solid play.

All right, now that the overview is over, we can get a little bit more specific. I want to give some information based on region and what the trends are in certain areas. I broke the United States into eight categories, and I have at least some data for six of the eight. Obviously a lot of these tournaments in the same region are going to be further apart and results from place A in a region might not apply to place B in the same region, but I had to make the distinction somewhere. Hopefully it will provide some backbone and structure to this and will help you guys. So let’s go:

Northwest (WA/OR)
gyarados-stormfront-sf-19Not all that much to go on here, with only two tournaments being reported, but they were won by Gyarados and Luxchomp. The other six decks to T4 the tournaments were spread out, with Luxchomp, Gyarados, Vilegar, Machamp, Magnezone, and Regigigas. This seems to be a pretty undefined metagame and therefore anything still has a very good shit to do well this week. I would think that a lot of players will stick to what they are comfortable with in this toss-up of an environment, so expect some similar trends here. Week two for the northwest will pretty much be an extension of week one.

Advice: Play what you’re comfortable with, play it well, and hope for the best. If you see something get popular on Saturday, consider changing your deck up a bit for it the next day, but I wouldn’t go crazy.

Again only two tournaments reported from California this weekend, so we’ll go off what we have. Winning these two tournaments were Dialga and Machamp, with other top finishes by two Luxchomp, Gyarados, Vilegar, Machamp, and Dusknoir/Crobat Prime. The entire Big 5 was represented in California this weekend, but don’t expect it to stay that way. While the Northwest will see another week of randomness, I predict California to piggyback off the wins of Dialga and Machamp. Expect to see more of both of these this weekend.

Advice: Be prepared for everything, but be specifically prepared for Machamp and Dialga. If you’re going to run SP, make sure you have some sort of answer to Machamp, even if it’s only a thick Uxie line. If you’re not running SP, watch out for Machamp Prime and more importantly, have an answer for Dialga. Gyarados seems like a strong choice for California this weekend, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins a couple tourneys there.

The I-don’t-know-what-to-call-you region (UT/CO/AZ/etc)
Only one reported tournament here, won by Vilegar, followed by two Gyarados and a Tyranitar variant. Can’t really say much as I’m not familiar with the area nor is there much data, but I would say with Vilegar winning and half the top four being Gyarados, expect both to be popular.

Advice: If anything, Luxchomp with an emphasis on Luxray over Garchomp seems like a good play, giving you an advantage in gusting up Vileplume and taking prizes vs Vilegar and giving you more attacking options vs Gyarados. Don’t forget the Toxicroak G Promo if Tyranitar is going to be prominent in the field.

South (TX/OK/etc)
Again, unfortunately, only two tournaments reported, with Gyarados and Machamp taking home medals. Right below, though, is totally different, with two Luxchomps, two Dialgas, Regigigas, and Jumpluff/Vileplume. No Vilegar in these results means either there wasn’t that much present, or they weren’t that good. It’s no surprised really why Machamp and Gyarados took home the gold’s here: Machamp walked all over the SP decks that were popular, and Gyarados beat the Machamp decks beating up the SP decks!

Advice: For this upcoming week, expect players to be switching to Machamp in hopes of beating the popular SP decks here. Similarly, expect more players running Gyarados because of its victory and its decent matchup vs SP decks as well as the strong matchup vs Machamp. Consequently, Vilegar is probably a good play here this weekend, giving both the aforementioned decks trouble, while keeping a solid Luxchomp matchup.

The Midwest (OH/IL/WI/MO/western PA/etc)
vileplume-undaunted-ud-24Finally, some numbers to work with! With 12 CCs reported in this area (granted, I know it’s pretty large) we have some staggering results. Eight wins by Luxchomp, a pair from Dialga, and one each from Gyarados and Vilegar, with nine more top four placings by Luxchomp, seven for Gyarados, four for Vilegar, and two each for Dialga and Machamp. 11 other decks were used to make top four, only two of which were repeated, Magnezone and Donphan/Machamp. So what the hell is going on in the country’s center of Pokémon?

Clearly SP has dominated this metagame, and this likely correlates with some of the best players in the game playing in the Midwest. As I said earlier, some of the best players came in with SP this weekend and took home medals because of their superior strategy and ability to outplay opponents. Though Gyarados made a significant splash, everything else pretty much failed in comparison to SP.

Advice: It’s tough to say with so many world-class players here, but I’ll give it my best. With SP so popular, it seems that Machamp would be a great play. Personally, though, I think that it would be a mistake to play Machamp this weekend in the Midwest. Players will be ready for it, at least mentally, and I foresee a decent amount of people switching over to Gyarados as well. Vilegar might prove itself to be the best play here this weekend. You can even run Mewtwo if you want, or a Machamp line, to further strengthen your SP matchup. Vilegar also gives you a strong Gyarados game as well as a good shot vs most of the field, where Machamp lacks slightly. If you’re not into Vilegar, I’d probably stick with Luxchomp and tech for mirror and Machamp.

Northeast (NY/NJ/New England/eastern PA)
Well this is where I’m from, so I should know a lot about this right? Unfortunately, I’m a bum and haven’t looked as much as I should, so I only have slightly more information than I do about other areas. With five tournaments reported, two were won by Jimmy O’Brien with Vilegar, with Gyarados taking a pair and Luxchomp ending up with one as well. Surprisingly, no other Vilegar made top four in these tournaments, but we had two Luxchomps, two Machamps, one Dialga, and a whopping four Gyarados.

Others include a Dusknoir variant, Garchomp/Machamp, and Electivire FB/DeoxysRayquaza LEGEND. So, what to think? Clearly Gyarados has been dominating. It doesn’t seem like anything is keeping it in check, and this could have just been due to the fact that a lot of players weren’t ready for the popularity and strength of Gyarados. Jimmy had no problems beating it consistently with Vilegar, and I think this week will bring less success to the blue dragon.

Advice: SP, SP, SP. I think the success of SP last week was stemmed by people trying new things, as well as not running cards to help the Gyarados matchup that much (namely Lucario and more recovery for Luxray). The Vilegar matchup is also aided by upping the Luxray count. I can’t see much beating an extremely solid Luxchomp or Dialgachomp list this weekend, so if you’re not playing SP, make sure you’re prepared for it. Mesprit/Seeker is a great way to hinder SP and give yourself a better chance to win the game.

Unfortunately I have no data for my last two regions, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Hopefully next week we can get some results and I can reflect on them.

Before I finish this article, I’m going to make some general predictions in addition to my region-specific ones!:

– More of the Big 5: I doubt this week will bring us any new deck, so expect to see the Big 5 performing well once again. We might see another deck win, but I’m really not sure. Give it another two-three weeks, though, and I bet we’ll start seeing some different decks start to win. Also, I think Dialga and Machamp will see less play while Gyarados, Luxchomp, and Vilegar get even more popular.

lucario-gl-rising-rivals-rr-8pokemon-paradijs.com– Lucario in Luxchomp: A card that many probably dropped for room and to tech for mirror, this guy has got to go back in right away. Gyarados is climbing its way back to the top of the totem pole, and without Lucario Luxchomp can’t keep up. The inability to 1HKO Gyarados is that much worse now with Warp Energy/Seeker. This card is mandatory again now people!

– Mewtwo: I know a lot of people did not run Mewtwo counters in Luxchomp last weekend, but it doesn’t seem like Mewtwo was popular either. Maybe not this week, but expect Mewtwo to be popping up soon, taking free wins from SP decks, so you might want to get those counters ready.

Rescue Energy in Vilegar: Slapping a Rescue Energy on Vileplume makes the matchup much harder for Luxchomp to win, forcing you to KO it two or three times instead of just the one. Successful Vilegars will be running a number of these to help the matchup, so Luxchomps prepare.

Well, that’s about it for this week. Tell me what you guys think of this idea of a week-to-week analysis, what I can do to improve it, and what you all want to see in the future from me. See ya’ll next week!


P.S. I’m going to try and get my Excel spreadsheet up somewhere so you guys can look at it, but in the meantime JWittz has a pretty good catalog of what is doing well (I didn’t use his data, but it’s pretty similar to mine) here:


Also the Gym thread has good data to look at as well. Cheers!

EDIT: Here’s the spreadsheet in .xlsx format: Cities Week 1 Results

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