Going Continental: European Cup Report & Advice for State Championships

As you may know, I attended the European Cup in Holland last Saturday, the first 32K value tournament of the tournament season. This was a great opportunity to get a taste for the State Championship metagame environment as well as play against some of Europe’s finest players.

There were 192 players in the Masters division with 8 rounds of swiss, and a Top 32 Cut. Unfortunately, I went 5-3, missing the cut, but I still learnt a lot about the ever-changing format.

I also gained insight into which new decks are proving to be tier one contenders as well as established decks that could benefit from changes to cope with the increasingly diverse format.

In this article I will attempt to convey my opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of various decks I played against / saw at the tournament and which decks are my top picks for States this year.

Mini Tourney Report

I decided to play Luxchomp because of the fact that I still believe the deck to be the most versatile in a relatively unknown competitive environment with positive matchups across the board. Here’s the list I ran:

Pokémon – 23

3 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
2 Garchomp C
2 Garchomp C LV.X
1 Ambipom G
1 Dragonite FB
1 Roserade GL
1 Crobat G
1 Lucario GL
1 Toxicroak G DP41
1 Bronzong G PL
1 Smeargle UD
2 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Unown Q MD
1 Azelf LA
1 Drifloon SF SH1
1 Drifblim UD

Trainers – 26

3 Pokémon Collector
4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
1 Looker’s Investigation
1 Aaron’s Collection
2 Bebe’s Search
3 Poké Turn
3 Energy Gain
2 Power Spray
2 SP Radar
1 Junk Arm
2 Premier Ball
2 Pokémon Communication

Energy – 11

4 Call
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning
1 Psychic

Here are the reasons I ran certain techs or lines of Pokémon:

3-1 Luxray GL LV.X

pokemon-paradijs.comMy preferred line. By maximizing the chances of a turn 2 “Bright Look” as well as having the potential to donk 30 HP basics such as Magikarp, and the less played Hoppip, running a 3-1 line achieves the most consistent results for me in testing as well as in tournaments.

2-2 Garchomp C LV.X

This play really aggravated me. I loved 2-2 Garchomp when Stage 2 decks suck as Vilegar were more prevalent. I decided that I wanted to run 3-1 ‘Chomp the night before the tournament, but had left all my spare Garchomp C at home, and neither of my friends had any spare with them!

I expected there to be a lot of mirror matches, and the lack of the third Garchomp C really stunted my ability to gain board control of those matches.

Dragonite FB / Ambipom G

Standard SP counters to give an edge versus mirror match and DialgaChomp.

Lucario GL & Crobat G

Standard techs for Machamp as well as the Gyarados matchup.

Toxicroak G Promo

This guy is invaluable in against certain matchups such as Regigigas and Tyranitar as it hits these tanks for 120 + poison after a KO from damage from your side of the field.

Smeargle UD

Going into the tournament I believed it was a solid play for mirror, and have had great success with it in the past. Unfortunately for me, Smeargle just didn’t yield the results that I would have hoped for. He contributed very little to the outcome of games, and if I didn’t start with him, was a pain to get out and use effectively.

As Fulop mentions in his latest article, he describes Smeargle as “a difficult card”. I couldn’t agree more. The effectiveness of the card yo-yos in different games, and literally baffles me.

Roserade GL

pokemon-paradijs.comThis card is SO good against Spiritombs it hurts. As I mentioned in my previous article, timing the poison KOs so that the opponent’s Pokémon gets Knocked Out at the beginning of your turn allows you to score a potential double KO by following up with a “Dragon Rush” from a Garchomp C LV.X.

I found it to also be very useful in certain situations against the mirror match if they happen to drop a Smeargle / Chatot / Azelf, as more often than not, players don’t run Warp Energy or Warp Points in their Luxchomp builds.

Drifblim UD

This guy was my Mewtwo counter as well as a Steelix/Tyranitar counter. I felt that it in such an unknown Meta he couldn’t be a bad play.

Unfortunately I didn’t use him at all during the tournament, and with hindsight may have been a poor utilisation of efficiency due to the triple Colorless energy attack “Take Away”, which justified his place in the deck in order to combat tanks such as Steelix and Tyranitar.

Sending 2-3 turns of energy attachments back into the deck simply required me to overextend my resources too much, causing the deck to become weak mid-late game. With hindsight, I definitely would have taken him out of the build in order to make room for more consistency boosting cards (e.g. Collector / Uxie / SP Radar).

Looker’s Investigation

This was my LostGar counter. I didn’t see a lot of need to prepare any specific counters such as Weavile G or Absol G LV.X as I didn’t feel that the deck has a great matchup versus even a regular Luxchomp.

However, this card does let you shuffle in and draw up to 5, meaning that you may opt to draw 1 card, thus limiting the effectiveness of Gengar Prime’s “Hurl into Darkness” attack.

I won’t bore you guys with most of the play by plays of individual games because most of the games I played I either rolled my opponent, or got rolled myself, with the exception of a mirror match as well as an amazing Regigigas build which I will got into more detail about later. Here are the match summaries:

Round 1: Luxchomp Mirror (Martin v.d. V)

I draw what I believe to be an average starting hand, but several turns into the game, I can’t draw an energy to save my life. He ends up steamrolling me for the loss.

0-1

Round 2: Chenlock

He gets a really poor start with a lone Blaziken FB for a turn or so. His prizes must have been terrible as I didn’t see a Garchomp C all game. I use Roserade GL to “poison bind” his Sableyes, and he just didn’t have a response.

1-1

Round 3: Machamp

He gets out a turn 1 Machamp but can’t retreat his active Azelf as I used Roserade GL’s “Poison Bind” to keep it trapped there. I time my KOs so that he can’t keep up with the prize trade off and loses the prize count 0-3.

2-1

Round 4: Tyranitar

He opens Larvitar and I think I’m in for a great game. Unfortunately for him, I donk his Larvitar with a turn 1 Earthquake and snipe two more of them with two consecutive “Dragon Rushes” to seal the game.

3-1

Round 5: Gyarados

pokemon-paradijs.comHe opens really strongly, with his Gyarados swinging for 90 by turn 3, and KO-ing my Luxray GL LV.X with 2 Crobat G drops and a “Tail Revenge”. I promote Roserade GL, “Poison Binding” in order to attempt to set up a KO the next turn with Garchomp C LV.X and Crobat drops.

He proceeds to attach Warp Energy to his active Gyarados and then use a Seeker to bring it back to his hand to heal the minimal damage he caused. He tries to lay it back down, but then we both notice that he has no Broken Time-Space in play. He benches the Magikarp and ends.

I then “Dragon Rush” his Magikarp each turn, giving me a huge prize advantage as he can’t draw into a BTS. I pick off his various bench support to take my last few prizes and win the game. If he hadn’t misplayed the Seeker, I’m almost certain that he would have won.

4-1

Round 6: Regigigas (Matijs Moree)

This was undoubtedly my favorite game of the tournament. He opens with a Mespirit and drops another one to “Psychic Bind” me. At this point I’m unsure of what he’s playing. He attaches a Water energy to his active Mespirit and passes.

I narrow it down to either Palkia G/Lucario or Regigigas and am apprehensive when I take my next few turns. He manages to power lock me for several turns, while I do damages to his Mespirits, which he always managed to “Super Scoop”.

I finally take the first prize, with a really good setup, thinking the game is mine. He then proceeds to blow up in my face with Twins, setting up a Regigigas LV.X (found out what he’s playing at last!) and maintaining a power lock.

I tried to setup my Toxicroak G promo at one point, but he shuffled my hand back in with Giratina’s “Let loose” Poké-Power. He made a miraculous comeback and won on time! A great payer playing a rogue I underrated tremendously.

4-2

Round 7: Luxchomp Mirror

pokegym.netReally close game, but he has just the slightly better start and ends up winning on time by 1 Prize.

4-3

Round 8: Gyarados

My opponent was one of the nicest people I met all day and took the final game of the day light-heartedly. We joked throughout the match and seemed surprised when I made a play which threw him off his game.

I used Roserade GL’s “Poison Bind”, followed by Garchomp C LV.X’s “Dragon Rush” and Crobat G “Flash Bites” to KO his Gyarados with a Rescue Energy on it between turn from Poison, so the Gyarados went to the discard pile as the poison condition bypassed Rescue Energy’s effect.

He couldn’t hit a Pokémon Rescue to save his life, and I ran through his support Pokémon. Really fun game, and a great end to the day.

Final Result: 5-3

So I imagine a lot of you readers will be thinking “Why is he telling us about a tournament that he missed the cut at?” Well dear Underground Members, throughout the day, my opinions of various decks altered tremendously, especially with the introduction of the new rule that 4 Prizes must be taken in a top cut game for it to count.

Here is my deck advice for the upcoming State Championships with regards to the playability of various decks:

Worthy Deck Choices

1. Luxchomp

This deck won the European Cup, and quite rightly so. Having the versatility to adapt to beat any deck in the format, it will see a lot of play at State Championships and will certainly win a great number of them.

After my experience at the European Cup, I’ve since changed my list to maximize consistency and increase the chance of a good start:

Pokémon – 23

3 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
3 Garchomp C
1 Garchomp C LV.X
1 Ambipom G
1 Dragonite FB
1 Roserade GL
1 Crobat G
1 Lucario GL
1 Toxicroak G DP41
1 Bronzong G
1 Smeargle UD
2 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Unown Q MD
1 Azelf LA
1 Chatot MD

Trainers – 28

3 Pokémon Collector
4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
1 Seeker
1 Aaron’s Collection
1 Bebe’s Search
3 Poké Turn
3 Energy Gain
2 Power Spray
2 SP Radar
1 Junk Arm
2 Premier Ball
2 Pokémon Communication
2 Energy Exchanger
1 VS Seeker

Energy – 10

3 Call
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning
1 Psychic

The Chatot has been added to help improve bad starting hands into playable ones (I’d have killed for this little guy in my first round match!) and isn’t a bad starter with free retreat.

pokemon-paradijs.com

I’ve finally managed to change the Garchomp C line to 3-1 in order to maximise the chances of opening with it, thus increasing the chances of a Turn 2 “Dragon Rush”.

I used to run Seeker, but cut it for a Lookers Investigation in order to improve my Gengar Prime matchup, but with a lot of games, the card hasn’t earned its place in the deck. I much prefer Seeker, which helps so much with getting used Pixies such as Uxie or Azelf off the field to prevent them being a prize liability later on in the game.

It also allows more bench space for a larger army of Garchomp Cs to help in the mirror match. One infuriating thing to happen to a Luxchomp player in mirror match is to have all their energies “Tail Coded” by an Ambipom G to a useless non-poketurnable Pokémon on their bench, such as Azelf. Seeker helps rectify this problem by bringing him as well as all the energies back to your hand.

Energy Exchanger is a new entry into the deck and hasn’t been in any of my lists before due to my scepticism about the card’s effective applicability. Filipe Cardoso, a great player from Portugal, who achieved Top 16 at the European Cup, actually sold me on the concept at the tournament as it helps so much in mirror.

By being able to grab those crucial and otherwise unsearchable DCEs from the deck it is a worthy addition to the deck, which contributes to the speed of which the deck sets up as a whole.

Finally, VS Seeker has returned to my list so that I can re-use Cyrus’s Conspiracy / Seeker / Bebe’s Search as well as combo it with Junk Arm to reuse Supporters multiple times.

And the cuts? Well, here’s my reasoning:

pokegym.net1 Call Energy has been cut because with so many potentially great starters I can afford to cut it in order to maintain a stronger mid-late game with Energy Exchanger / Seekers.

As you can see, Drifblim is gone for now as I feel he doesn’t pull his weight enough to warrant a place in the deck. Admittedly he has his uses, but the number of times I’d prefer a more consistent start seriously outweighs the limited number of times I’ve ever needed to use Drifblim.

Looker’s Investigation has been cut, as explained above due to my opinion that it is inferior to Seeker.

I now only play 1 Bebe’s Search as I don’t feel 2 is quite needed without the Drifblim in the deck anymore. VileGar was not that prevalent at the tournament, with it only being played by 2-of the Top 32 players at the European Cup. I feel the space could be better used to help improve the Mirror match, as half of the Top Cut (16/32) was Luxchomp.

These are only my personal opinions on the list, and I’d love to hear your views on it, whether through comments or Private message, feel free to discuss your views on your “perfect” Luxchomp list with me.

2. DialgaChomp

As I explained in my previous article, this deck shows great versatility as well as being able to crush LostGar decks in 30 minute timed rounds by deafening the opponent so that they cannot play Lost World.

It has decent matchups across the board, and with the staple cards such as Garchomp C LV.X and Dialga G LV.X available in tins / gift sets, it’s a relatively inexpensive deck to have to buy the cards for, while showing great tournament potential. If you can’t afford the cards for Luxchomp, give this deck a whirl.

3. Regigigas

pokemon-paradijs.com

Yes, believe it or not, this guy is an incredibly viable choice for State Championships.

With the new rule 4 Prizes have to be taken for a game to count coming back into effect, after playing out a long, drawn out first game, Regigigas players can simply Mespirit lock their opponents to prevent them from setting up quickly in Game 2, creating a game that will take some time to play out, and thus not being completed when time is called.

A real “out there” choice, but deadly in the right hands (as I found out!). If there’s not a lot of Machamp in your area, give Gigas a go!

Unworthy Decks

The following decks I would avoid like the plague, simply because I feel they are just inferior to the choices I have recommended above, as well as having some poor matchups. Without further ado here they are:

1. Uxie Donk

This deck just screams not to be played under the current metagame conditions. With an increase in Dialga G to combat Gengar Prime as well as being played in just about any Stage 2 deck (even as a single copy) spells disaster for this deck.

No wonder there were no Uxie-Donk decks that managed to even make the Top32 at the European Cup. Steer clear of this one folks!

2. Gyarados

pokemon-paradijs.com

A controversial opinion that I’m sure a lot of you will not share. I feel that although the deck is obviously playable, ever since the deck began to see play, I’ve had my reservations.

By putting all your eggs in one basket by your backup attackers being in the discard pile to fuel the Gyarados’ attack who is currently on the field, you severely limit your scope for adaptability under certain circumstances.

Gengar Prime is a pain to deal with, as well as the ever popular Luxray GL LV.X. Having been running Luxchomp in tournaments for the past year frequently, I have never lost to a Gyarados deck. This tells me the matchup is unfavorable for Gyarados.

Also, why make life hard for yourself by running a deck that has horrible sudden death options compared to pretty much any other deck in the format?

3. Straight Machamp / “DonkChamp”

Don’t get me wrong, Machamp has heaps of potential when used as a secondary attacker in / builds, or when paired with a support Pokémon such as Magnezone Prime (see my previous article for more information).

However, the number of people I see at tournaments running it on its own with only Uxies / Smeargles and Unown Rs as support are really prevalent. Sure, you MAY beat SP, but you almost certainly will lose to almost every other deck in the format due to the lack of options the deck has.

So if you’re going to run Machamp, make sure you have answers for the rest of the decks in the format, not just Luxchomp and Dialgachomp!

So there you go folks, there’s my advice for States this year. With still time to prepare, feel free to contact me for deck advice or for fixes on your current lists.

Until next time,

Tom H.

EDIT: Here are some of the tournament results, courtesy of yeniths. (Thanks!)

This is how the Masters top cut breaks down:

18 Luxchomp
3 Vilegar w/ Lost World
3 Sablelock
3 Gyarados variants (including Mew/Gyarados)
1 Machamp
1 Dialgachomp
1 Magnezone/Machamp/Regirock
1 Gigas
1 Vilegar

Masters top 8:

1 Steven M. (D) 11-2 LuxChomp
2 Andrea C. (IT) 11-2 Vilegar + Lost World
3 Maurice v.d. B. (NL) 10-2 Machamp
4 Martin v.d. V. (NL) 8-4 Luxchomp
5 Marc L. (D) 8-3 Mew Gyarados
6 Matijs M. (NL) 8-3 Regigigas
7 Matteo L. (IT) 8-3 LuxChomp
8 Pierre Z. (LU) 8-3 LuxChomp


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