Hey all. So I had an article for last week, but didn’t get it done in time for Adam to post it, so we’re putting them together this week, in the conclusion of the Mike on the Metagame series. The first section will deal with Marathon week, the second section will go into my own personal CCs, including my lists and why I decided to play certain cards. The third section we’ll delve into the final week of Cities and wrap it all up at the end with an overview of the 2010-2011 City Championship series. And away we go!
We’re coming up on the end of the 2010-2011 City Championship series, and we have a bunch to cover in this week’s article. Coming off of the biggest week of the series, marathon week, and going into the final weekend of tournaments, hopefully I’ll be able to shed some light on a bunch of stuff here. I don’t have nearly as much data as I would like, but we’ll do our best as always!
For the first time since the beginning of the City series, Luxchomp did not win the most tourneys this past week! However, it was second only to its other SP counterpart, Dialga. Gyarados and Vilegar both won a couple medals of their own as well, with Machamp winning a single title. And out of the 21 reported tournaments we have four rogue winners, which we’ll take a look at as well. Another big change is the very large amount of Vilegar doing well, claiming over 20 Top Four places.
So, the main question from this week is: why the sudden spike in Dialga’s success? With only a few wins each week prior, Week 5 puts Dialga as the most winningest deck, with six victories, coming from all over the continent. This comes after a week of Luxchomp domination, but with a slight rise in Vilegar popularity. The increase in Vilegar led to an obvious choice of something to beat it: Dialga.
pokemon-paradijs.comThrough careful deckbuilding, you can make your Dialga to be strong in the SP mirror, as Luxchomp obviously has the inherent advantage in the SP mirror. With cards like Staraptor, Dragonite, Ambipom, Toxicroak, and others, though, Dialga can definitely win the matchup more than it loses. I’ll be sure to go into the list that I played later in the article and why I decided to play it, as well my games on the day.
The second big question is, why did Luxchomp drop off so significantly? The best answer for this is all the Luxchomp-hate. After continually dominating the charts for the first four weeks, people began to recognize the weaknesses the deck has and began playing to them.
Decks like Magnezone/Yanmega, which focus on heavy disruption while still maintaining consistent damage, have a strong Luxchomp matchup. Vilegar, as always, has a strong Luxchomp matchup; even moreso when running a copy of Gengar Prime. Overall, players have learned and become accustomed to the current Luxchomp lists and have been able to adapt their own decks as well as approach to the matchup, making Luxchomp a more predictable and easier to play against deck.
This isn’t to say that I (and many others) don’t think it is still the best deck, because it probably is. If you’re going to play it now, though, you have to be much more comfortable and acute with the deck than earlier in the season.
Let’s touch real quickly on the winning rogue decks as well:
Steelix- This guy has been around the winning tables this year already, so it’s not surprise really to see it back. Taking one of the Georiga tournaments, Steelix, as Kettler points out in his latest rogue article, is a force to be reckoned with. It can take down the Big 3 without too much difficulty: OHKOing everything in Luxchomp with an Expert Belt, doing the same thing vs Gyarados with Skuntank, and taking Gengars down while avoiding Fainting Spell with Skuntank. Obviously the deck’s biggest fear is anything Fire, so as long as you can avoid those, you’re golden.
Magnezone/Yanmega- Again winning a Georgia tournament, and again noted in Kettler’s last article, this combination of cards can take down even the best decks as well. With heavy disruption and many options, it can compete with just about anything. I have worries about its consistency and being able to beat some decks like Dialga consistently, but it is still a deck to be looked at and watched out for this weekend.
Arceus- Winning again in the Midwest, I don’t have much to add from last week, as I have no clue what the list looks like.
Blazechomp- Taking a tournament in Mississippi, I feel Blazechomp is just an inferior version of Luxchomp or Dialga, so I don’t have much to say about it. It has the Fire factor to beat Steelix and other Fire-weak decks, but lacks the ability to combat Gyarados as well as Luxchomp does.
Moving on, we’ll take a closer look at the regions and more specifically, the marathons and what happened at each one.
Though there were a total of eight tournaments in Georgia last week, we only have data from five of these tournaments. As mentioned above, Magnezone/Yanmega and Steelix took home of two of the gold medals, with a combination of SP taking the other three: two Luxchomp and one Dialga.
However, Vilegar had the biggest showing, making Top Four a whopping ten times, more than double anything else. Gyarados made a strong showing, and SP topped as many times as it won, while Steelix and Magnezone variants topped once each in addition to their victories.
After talking to some people that headed down to Georgia for the tournaments, it seems that most of the strong players were running pretty standard decks: Luxchomp, Dialga, Gyarados, and Vilegar were the most popular among them. Many of the best players dropped after Swiss in most of the tournaments, certainly skewing the results. I know for a fact Jason K dropped from all the tournaments he played in, which means Chuck, Alvis, Moss, Pooka, etc most likely dropped from them as well.
pokemon-paradijs.comAs for some of the more interesting decks that were played by strong players from what I’ve heard, there are definitely a couple. Mike Pramawat ran a Giratina deck that Bolt played up here in NJ as well, which included Mewtwo and the Lunatone/Solrock combination to prevent Healing.
The deck performed very strong vs Vilegar, had a decent Gyarados matchup, and with Mewtwo could take down even the best Luxchomp player if they didn’t run a counter. It folded once a Dialga G Lv. X hit the field, though.
Regigigias was also played by one of the best players in the world at the Georgia Marathon: Alex “Chuck” Brosseau ran an unorthodox Regigigas build, which focused on the Mesprit lock. Running 4 Mesprit/4 Seeker/4 SSU/4 VS Seeker plus Pokémon Rescues (from what I hear), the deck rarely missed a Mesprit drop, effectively locking the opponent out of Powers the entire game.
Something’s got to give though if you’re going to fit all of that, so instead of making space for all the different Energy Regigigas Lv. X needs to attack, Chuck didn’t run any Basic Energy, and instead focused on the Colorless Special Energies, only attacking with Gigaton Punch and Drag Off, while the Lv. X was used to reusing Mesprit as well as healing. This, plus the Mesprit lock, was enough apparently to win a lot, as Chuck did very well at his tournaments.
For now, that’s all the cool decks that I’ve heard about from the marathon, but keep your ears open for people that went and just haven’t had a chance to share their information yet. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from talking to them about what was played and how some of the best players in the game played their decks.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis string of events seemed to have a lot of promise, and I confess myself disappointed that I have almost no information on it at all! All I know is that the attendance was pretty good: it looks like they average around 45 people each day, with one tournament bringing in a significant amount more. Only two tournaments were reported deckwise, though, so I’ll try to elaborate on that as much as possible.
Vilegar and Dialga each took one of these Cities, while Luxchomp, Gyarados, Vilegar, and Arceus rounded out the Top Fours. What struck me the most was that Arceus topped at both events, again signifying that it could be a legitimate deck in this format. I think once Cities are over I might sit down and take a look at them all again and see how they can be played, because the concept has always interested me.
Overall, though, besides that, nothing too special here. The decks that should be winning, did. I’m interested and hope that more results will be posted later, as people get back into the normal swing of things have more time, because with such an event like this and only a couple results posted is a bit inadequate.
So I was here for two of the four days it ran. The third day of the tournament, Burlington, was the largest City Championship of the year, save for a few of the Georgia tournaments, so that was pretty awesome! I made the trip with my little brother and two other friends from New York. Day one I played Luxchomp and day two ran Dialga. Will give my lists and a quick rundown, as well as what I saw at each of the tournaments.
Pokémon – 19
3 Garchomp C
Trainers – 30
4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
Energy – 12
Editor’s Note: I’m counting 61 cards in here, but will get clarification from Mikey when I can. Wanted to at least get the article out in the meantime.
Slightly different than what you might have been seeing around recently, but here’s my decisions on some key cards:
pokemon-paradijs.com-Ambipom is a more versatile card than Dragonite and I will always run it over Dragonite. Dragonite goes in if I can fit both of them.
-Drifblim is amazing. I know Fulop touched on this in his last article, and I was well aware of it before the fact. The card makes your Gengar matchup as well as your Gyarados matchup stronger, as well as giving you the ability to take some easy prizes versus literally anything
-Looker’s Investigation is a very strong card in mirror and can turn the game around completely if played at the right time. I played the mirror very differently when running one of these guys as well.
-Seeker was included for two reasons: 1) To reuse Luxray Lv.X against Vilegar decks. 2) As a pseudo-Mewtwo counter: kill everything except Mewtwo and one other Pokémon. Bright Look the other Pokémon up, Seeker, and kill their last remaining Pokémon, giving you the victory.
My matches went something like this:
Round 1 vs Frankie Diaz w/ Vilegar
We both got pretty crummy starts, and he opted to go for Gengar Prime early, Lost Zoning both my Luxray Lv.X and Garchomp Lv.X relatively early in the game. I was forced to set up Drifblim and begin sniping and taking prizes, and to my luck, he had pretty bad draws and couldn’t stop Drifblim from taking five prizes to win the game!
Round 2 vs Jumpluff/Vileplume/Shaymin/Sunflora
I take the first prize and proceed to go up another prize after Locking Up a Spiritomb and setting up. However, after that happens, he has Shaymin Lv.X out as well as three Jumpluffs, so we exchange OHKOs every turn until he lays down a Vileplume line against me unexpectedly when I have one prize left.
I’m forced to go into the tank and he ends up misplaying, Seekering up his damaged Vileplume (from Drifblim) and giving me trainers, allowing me to get back Garchomp Lv. X (VS Seeker for Aaron’s) and take the final prize on a Sunflora.
Round 3 vs Sablelock
pokemon-paradijs.comHe gets a horrid start, but at least gets some sort of lock going against me. I’m able to take a bunch of cheap prizes and it’s hard for him to comeback, and I’m just able to grab prizes more quickly in the end then he can.
Round 4 vs Mirror
I start Uxie to Garchomp, he gets the T2 Garchomp C Lv.X to KO my benched Garchomp, and even though I respond with Ambipom to OHKO, he is able to stay way ahead in board position as I’m forced to lay down both Uxies, Azelf, and Smeargle during the course of the game. A late Looker’s by me makes it a little closer, but he’s too far ahead in the end.
Round 5 vs Gyarados
I go first and he opens with two Double Drawers, completely setting up before I even have a chance. I don’t even both attacking the Gyarados at first, I try to gust the Regice up and snipe around with Garchomp and Drifblim, as he has a 0-2 card hand for a few turns after burning through so many resources during the first two turns.
Round 6 vs Mirror
Basically the exact same thing as Round 4 except I drew a little bit better and probably would have won if time wasn’t called because he was out of Energy, and the late Looker’s crippled him (Ambipom trickery FTW).
So from 3-0 to 3-3…was pretty disappointed in the pretty bad luck thrown at me, but oh well. Oh, and I went first all six of my games.
Going into the next tournament, I knew I was going to play SP. Figured I would drop Seeker from the list as it didn’t do anything for me all day, but then got to thinking about Dialgachomp and how it might be a good play if I was confident enough in the Luxchomp matchup.
I would take the worse Gyarados matchup, as it can blow up on Luxchomp anyway, and take a much stronger Vilegar matchup and possibly beat up on some of the decks that are inherently weak to Dialga, like the Uxie Donk that T4ed at Burlington. So I make up a list, borrow a bunch of cards, and end up with this:
Pokémon – 18
3 Garchomp C
Trainers – 29
4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
Energy – 13
So there’s probably a bunch of questions on this list. No Call Energy was fine with 4 Collector/Contest Hall/Staraptor, I didn’t miss it at all. Staraptor was phenomenal, playing an intricate role in nearly every game I played, especially the SP mirrors. Again, Ambipom over Dragonite.
Twins was an all-star in a lot of games and I would even consider bumping it to 2 if I can find the room. Black Belt was my card for Gyarados: an Expert Belted Deafen + Skuntank Poison brings a Gyarados to 50 damage coming back to your turn, followed by an Expert Belted Black Belted Deafen + Skuntank Poison makes the knock-out complete, even bypassing Rescue Energy.
Your stadium is then locked in so they can’t lay down another Gyarados right away, and you are at an advantage. Of course, I haven’t tested this out yet extensively, but it seems like a good one-of to have in a deck with Staraptor, and I have used it in testing against other decks as well.
Snowpoint Temple is a questionable call, over both the 3rd Contest Hall as well as a single Conductive Quarry, and I’m still unsure of it, but it is nice and can play a big part when playing against Luxchomp, making everything out of Garchomp sniping range while you set up and then are able to counter your own stadium and snipe their Pokémon with ease.
Without further ado, I’ll go into my matches:
Round 1 vs Bolt w/ Mirror
So me and Bolt both decided to play Dialga today and talked about it a bunch the night before, so of course we get paired up with each other the first round! I get a better start and draw really well and he is unable to come back.
Round 2 vs Yanmega
Once Dialga G Lv.X hit the field it was game over.
Round 3 vs Vilegar
pokemon-paradijs.comShe got a pretty stellar start, but I was able to keep just the right amount of Trainers in hand for her not to grab too many easy KOs, while being able to set up my field with Staraptor and a couple of Dialgas. Eventually Skuntank and Expert Belted Dialga came out, and the math just seems to always work out, and I began two-hitting Gengars.
I was clever and didn’t Spray her first Level Down, saving it for later in the game where it was much more important when I did.
Round 4 vs Vilegar
This game was against one of the guys I drove up with, Vikas. We both knew each other’s lists pretty much. He ran Gengar Prime so I had to make sure I played around that. I end up prizing both of my Bebe’s Search, so I’m forced to go about getting Dialga G Lv.X in a different way, I think by Twins(ing) for it or something like that.
Time is called when we both have 5 prizes left (whoa!) and I’m able to Garchomp snipe for a prize. Would have been awesome to see how the game would have played out.
Round 5 vs Luxchomp
Ah, finally. He takes the first prize and it ends up going back and forth, each of us taking prizes pretty much every single turn until its 1-1. Twins helped during the game, fetching me two DCEs to work with, and I thought my last turn Looker’s might put him away, but he was able to hit the Energy he needed to win the game. Very good game.
Round 6 vs Luxchomp
pokemon-paradijs.comAnother great game, I don’t remember too much except it going similar to the last game, but with me hitting a bunch of Contest Hall good flips, and him not drawing so well off of the late-game Looker’s, sealing the game for me.
So 5-1 going into Top 8 against the same Luxchomp I just beat in the last round.
Top 8 vs Luxchomp
Game 1 goes pretty similarly to our last round, with him drawing slightly less good. I end up taking the first prize, but then he goes back up on prizes, allowing me to Twins, and stuff happens and he runs out of steam.
Game 2 he has a bunch of early Sprays and my start is pretty wacky and I scoop pretty quickly.
Game 3 is left with not too much time, and he has a pretty janky start, but is able to draw the first prize with a Luxray Lv. X. I have Smeargle and he hits Cyrus off his prizes, so I’m able to use that and I need SP Radar for Toxicroak/Energy Gain for it/Pokéturn to get the Unown Q off my Garchomp that I retreated the previous turn.
I can get all that as long as my Twins…isn’t…prized…fail. I can’t return the KO and he takes another prize with his Luxray and time is called, and I can’t draw two consecutive prizes in my turns.
So I’m ousted with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but no worries. I’ll probably be playing the same thing, almost the exact same list, this weekend at my last two Cities (assuming the weather is okay). Deck ran well and it did everything that I wanted to so I can’t complain.
There was a pretty good balance of decks, with a decent amount of Luxchomp, Vilegar, and Gyarados, with a pinch of Dialga and Machamp worked in, and obviously a bunch of decks not in the Big Five. The final day of the marathon brought some more rogueish decks out, with a bunch of Yanmega variants (including Magnezone/Yanmega) as well as other interesting rogue decks, one played by our writer Frankie Diaz, Kingdra/Magnezone.
pokemon-paradijs.comNothing too exciting going on here though, with Luxchomp winning three out of the four tournaments. Only decks not in the Big Five to top were Uxie and Garchomp SV, both pretty straightforward decks. The Garchomp SV variant ran Sharpedo TR to disrupt when possible, as well as giving it a better shot against Gengar decks.
Besides the marathons, there were some other tournaments around the country, but not a whole lot, and therefore not a lot of data to go on. I don’t want to go into these, and you can see the spreadsheet yourself to see what did well. I’m just going to wrap it up with some general comments going into the last week of Cities.
Expect Dialga to be played more again and do well. Vilegar will probably decrease while Gyarados becomes more popular again. Luxchomp will probably do better than in Week 5, but it won’t return to its domination of the previous four weeks. A lot of people will probably be playing rogue decks this weekend, as it is there last chance before the new set comes out to use them.
So, whatever you play, make sure you have a lot of bases covered. Don’t be afraid to bust out your fun decks too, as these are the last “not-so-competitive” tournaments until Spring Battle Roads, with a long period of time of States and Regionals taking up the season.
**End of Week 5 analysis**
So with the final week of Cities, we arrive back to much of the same as the first four weeks. It seems as if Marathon Week brought out something different in players, but we’re back into the normal swing of things in the final weekend of tournaments. Let’s get to it quick!
Luxchomp has regained its spot as the most winningest deck this week, with 10 victories and 22 Top Four placings to back that up, both more than any other deck by far. Gyarados and Vilegar were both heavily played and greatly successful, with right around the same amount of triumphs. Dialga retained some of its momentum after its big week last week, but certainly fell in popularity.
pokemon-paradijs.comMachamp was played even less if that’s possible, and it seems rogue decks were in full force during this last weekend. As I said above, it was the last chance for players to give something new and fun a try, so I’m not all too surprised by these results.
You can take a look at all the different decks that did well on the spreadsheet; it’s a great big number when you take into account the fact that I only have data for 26 tournaments.
Usually I’ll delve into the rogue decks that won during the week, but looking at the winners, it seems kind of redundant. Sablelock isn’t all that rogue and has been covered by Josh, Regigigas has been talked about (above in this article, as well as in previous ones, including Tom’s article), Arceus I have no idea what is about still (someone fill me in!), Drapion/Vileplume has been covered by Frankie, Jumpluff by Kettler, and Scizor by Pablo! So we have just about all of our bases covered there.
Also, usually there’s a region-specific metagame section here, but that seems pretty useless now, eh? With no more tournaments it doesn’t seem all that useful to go into that, but what I can do is compile all the results into one spreadsheet for you so you can look at your own region if you’re curious.
With a new set coming out, this information might be totally useless, but it might still be relevant information pending on what we get in the February set. I’ll leave that for you guys to work out for yourselves once we actually DO get the set. (Note: Yanmega/Magnezone and Yanmega/Scizor are under Yanmega. GeChamp is under Gengar SF. Kingdra/Gengar is under Kingdra.)
What CAN I talk about then in this last piece of the article? Well I think a nice overview of the City Championship series would be nice and beneficial to all. Like I said, I made this spreadsheet that has all the data I collected from the six weeks of Cities. Let’s analyze it, shall we?
Both for Wins and Top Four, there’s a pretty distinct pattern. Luxchomp has a ton more than anything else, with Gyarados and Vilegar coming in pretty distant seconds, right around the same amount though, Gyarados a little bit more than Vilegar.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis was the trend for pretty much the whole season so far, so that’s not too surprising. Just look at how dominant Luxchomp really was though! 71 out of 183 tournaments were won by Luxchomp; that’s almost 40%. 71% of Cities were won by one of the Big 3, while 80% were won by the Big 3 plus Dialga. Some may see this means it was a stale metagame, and to a certain degree I agree, but then you can also look at just how many decks won a City this year.
19 different decks took home a medal, and this isn’t even counting the different variants that many of the rogues had to be grouped into in order for me to keep this nice and neat. Then look at the Top Four places and you’ll see even more diversity. The numbers speak for themselves here; there’s so much that can be discerned from these that I don’t have the time or space to go into, so I’ll that up to you all.
Looking ahead now to State Championships, what to expect? The only card I’ll assume is in the next set is Lost World. How will this affect the metagame? I can tell you some of my predictions on what to expect.
Gengar Prime will launch itself into the top tier of decks. Gyarados will fall off. Vilegar will cease to exist in its current state, though Gengar Prime/Vileplume might very well still be a strong contender. Time will tell what the most successful Gengar Prime variants look like.
The top tier will shift from the Big 5 (or 4 or 3) to something like Gengar Prime/Luxchomp/Dialgachomp. Tyranitar will get significantly better. Decks that can’t compete with Gengar Prime will not be playable, and this is why Gyarados will decline.
Right now, there are two ways that I see combating Gengar Prime: 1) Don’t let them play Lost World. Whether it be Deafen or major disruption, it doesn’t matter if they Lost Zone half your deck if they can’t ever play the Stadium down. 2) Grab KOs every single turn. This will mean, usually, that you’ll need to be able to OHKO at least one Gengar Prime every game, and most likely two to three. If you can’t do one of these two things, I don’t think your deck is going to be able to compete come tournament time.
Of course, Gengar can deal with these problems itself, but then it has a weaker mirror matchup and becomes slower and clunkier and therefore making it susceptible to decks that CAN’T do one of the two things above. Only time will tell exactly how good Gengar Prime is and what can and cannot be done to stop it.
If Lost World doesn’t come out, for whatever reason, the metagame will likely stay very similar, and the results from Cities will become extremely relevant. I haven’t seen any Pokémon, for the most part, that can compete with the pre-HGSS Pokémon, and so the past bunch of sets have just been strengthening said Pokémon and making these decks stronger and stronger. I don’t see this changing.
The only Trainer that comes to mind immediately, besides Lost World, is the Trainer that Lost Zones one of your opponent’s Special Energy cards. This could make life difficult for decks like Steelix, Scizor, Dialga, and countless others. I’m not sure what decks can fit a card like this, or would need to, but even just a single copy in a deck could really make your opponent throw some fits.
I’m sure we’ll be doing some sort of review of the set once it comes out for you all and we’ll cover what we think is going to make a significant impact.
With that being said, there isn’t too much else to talk about. The metagame is pretty established now, and pretty close to what everyone expected at the beginning of the City series. The only big difference is that Machamp was much weaker than anticipated, and Dialga took time to get into its own again. A few solid rogue decks popped up as time went on as well, most notably Yanmega/Magnezone. Watch out for that deck in future tournaments, it is a real contender with its combination of power and disruption.
I’d like to end by giving one last stat. Out of the 337 Cities played worldwide, I have 183 here reported. That’s around 55%, but that 337 also takes into account all the Cities outside North America, which I didn’t have the time nor the resources to investigate and report on.
So, I’m not sure the exact percentage, but I imagine it must be somewhere around 70%-75% of North American tournaments were reported, which means my stats were probably a pretty accurate showing of the overall metagame of the country (plus Canada).
One last thing, here is a link to some interesting data and statistical analysis being performed on the PokéGym by one of the members there, if anyone is interested in checking it out: http://pokegym.net/forums/showthread.php?t=139236
Allllllllrighty, thanks everyone for reading my series! I hope you all enjoyed it, and I’ll take any suggestions and comments so if I decide to do something like this again for future tournaments I can make it just that much better.
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