So, Machamp / Donphan Can’t Win States? – Nottingham, UK States Report

After going 3-2 and missing the cut last week due to horrendous draws (see my report if you don’t believe me) I was very much looking forward to my next states. It was on my home turf which meant a nice short journey and a lot of people I knew.

It was also nice as my girlfriend was judging, not just sitting around trading and waiting for me. My Machamp / Donphan deck let me down the previous week but did well in Cities so I decided to stick with it for one last tournament.

Round 1: Tamao (Luxchomp)

pokebeach.comSo, after last week I was hoping for a nice, easy starting match to settle me down and give me some confidence for the day. I was paired against Tamao.

Some of you may know him as a front-page contributor to SixPrizes; I know him as the guy who won States in Manchester last week.

I was extremely nervous going into this one. As it turned out he was a fantastic guy, we chatted lots while setting up and I thoroughly enjoyed my match. Glad to meet the guy, even more glad that he turned out to be a rather nice chap.

To start, I mulliganed. TWICE! Luckily, I “lost” the flip (allowing me to go second) and even with the two extra cards he still started with only one basic. I started with a Machop and through dropping two Uxies I got a F Energy and a Machamp SF but I was unable to find a Rare Candy so I couldn’t get the donk.

He had a slow start though and on my second turn he still had the active Luxray he started with so I burned the F Energy on Machop to retreat him (and then use Rare Candy to evolve him to a Machamp SF) while promoting a newly-evolved Donphan to kill his Luxray.

Next turn he promoted a Garchomp, betting that I didn’t have an Expert Belt to “Earthquake” for the required 80 Damage. Unfortunately I did and I kept it in my hand with the intent to drop it for a surprise kill. So I did.

I got a Machamp Prime on the bench and, with only 2 Fighting energy on Donphan (annoying as 3 F Energy with a belt could KO anything in a regular Luxchomp) I tried to use “Fighting Tag” to promote a Machamp Prime who would then be hitting for 110 (that magic number again). Unfortunately my “Fighting Tag” was Power Sprayed.

He then Bright-Looked a Machoke from my bench in an attempt to stall but the following turn I evolved him to a SF Machamp and used “Take Out” for the KO. He then promoted an Uxie, dropped the Level X, a Crobat G (for “Flash Bite”) and a DCE to use “Zen Blade” for the knockout but I promoted my Donphan and, with time called and no way to get enough prizes in his 2 remaining turns, he scooped.


I enjoyed this match greatly and was happy to see my deck doing what it was supposed to do. I also felt very confident at having beaten a very good player and thought I could work from here and have a good tournament. It was also fantastic to play a really friendly, chilled and chatty guy. It made the match a lot more fun.

Round 2: Tommy (Gengar / Garchomp)

pokebeach.comI know Tommy very well. I play him at League most weeks. I know his deck, his strategies and how to beat it. I also have a decent matchup against it. I even managed to best it in a best of 3 at Sheffield Cities, leading my 3rd place finish.

The problem is though, Tommy is an excellent player and he has an excellent deck. Tommy again is a great guy though and an absolute pleasure to play. It was nice to start with two friendly matches.

So I started with 2 Phanpys and a F Energy, but he started Spiritomb so with no way to get a Donphan (or indeed, anything) I had to play a Professor Oak’s New Theory (PONT). Unfortunately for me he got a T1 Gengar SF. I dropped 2 Uxies next turn but still could not find a single evolution.

In fact, by the time I got an evolution he had 2 Gengar SFs and a benched Garchomp C with a DCE and Energy Gain. He sniped a Phanpy off my bench and used “Shadow Room“ to take down a couple Uxies and I was quickly down by 3 Prizes.

From here I started to mount a comeback, using “Fighting Tag” to get my Machamp Prime going and killing his Gengar (and seeing tails flipped on “Fainting Spell”) before he sniped my bench for another prize. I figured that with my Machamp Prime I could start to mount a comeback but he promoted an Ambipom G and used “Tail Code” to move my DCE onto a benched Donphan. This meant I could not continue taking a prize a turn and Tommy quickly won from here.


Although my deck started slowly I can’t really complain about this match. I know it’s a match I can win but I also know it’s a very difficult match. Also I should add that Tommy went 9-0, won the tournament and is currently top (by some margin!) of the UK rankings with his invite to worlds almost certainly in the bag, so I can’t moan about losing this one.

Round 3: Emma (Jumpluff)

pokebeach.comEmma is another person I know quite well and I have played a few times. Last time I played her she was playing an anti-SP deck full of basics and I was playing Machamp.

This time however she was playing Jumpluff. Jumpluff is one of VERY few decks (along with Yanmega and Gyarados) that I had a proper bad matchup against. I knew it would be tough but for the 3rd game in a row I was playing someone I knew and liked and could have a nice, friendly, chatty game.

This match unfortunately was very short. So I start with a Phanpy and she starts with a lone Hoppip. I go first so I can’t donk and instead dropped a Mesprit (to delay her set-up). She dropped a Crobat G before realising she was under “Psychic Bind” but dropped an Uxie anyway to set up as a Machamp counter.

T2 I had a belted Donphan active and a Machamp SF on my bench so I drop a Judge (adding to the Earlier “Psychic Bind” to further delay her set up). Unfortunately she had put a Crobat G active so I use Earthquake but only do 60.

On her turn she drops a Cyclone Energy, forcing me to put up my Machamp SF. This would be fine if I had any F Energy for “Take out” but I have none. Luckily I am able to burn a DCE to retreat Machamp for Donphan, killing her Crobat with a second “Earthquake”. I then killed a couple of Hoppips (one Belted) before she scooped.


I was a little sad that this wasn’t a real game but I know how hard a match Jumpluff can be for me and I know how good a player Emma is so I count myself lucky.

Round 4: Charles (Luxchomp)

pokebeach.comCharles is a guy I am getting to know quite well. I travel a lot for tournaments and when I travel north I can always find him and usually get drawn against him. The problem is I always lose. Usually I win the first game though and lose the next 2 to lose the best of 3 so I figured I might have a chance of victory in a single game.

Plus, I should, in theory, have a good Luxchomp match (although Charles knows every little loophole and strategy when playing Luxchomp so it’s always tough). He’s a nice guy though and our matches are always pleasant.

I went second but I started with a lone Regirock. This is, hands down, the worst possible start with my deck. Turn 1 I can do nothing but put a F Energy on him and pass.

Next turn I used a Bebe’s to search for a SF Machamp that I put on the bench ready for when Regirock died and then attached a DCE to Regirock ready to retreat him next turn (when I could have attached energy onto Machamp to fuel “Take Out”).

Unfortunately, being the seasoned player he is, Charles brought up a Roserade and used “Poison Bind”, simultaneously wearing down my Regirock while stopping me retreating him next turn and getting my Machamp rolling.

I realised then that I had made a massive misplay. What I should have done was used the Bebes to search for a Machamp Prime and attach the DCE to him. I then could have used “Fighting Tag”, attached an Expert Belt (which I had in hand) and hit for 80 with “Crushing Punch”, killing Roserade.

The following turn I could have attached a second F Energy and, with the injured Regirock on my bench, I would have been hitting for 110 with “Champ Buster”, the magic number to kill Pokémon SP.

pokebeach.comBut I didn’t do this so it’s all a moot point. I manage to take down the Roserade with Regirock but by the time I did Regirock died of Poison straight after. I then had a chance to put up my Machamp SF but he could have 1HKO it with Uxie LV.X and, although I had a second one, it was in my hand when it should have been on the bench (so he could have killed my Machamp but, as the second one wasn’t on the bench, I would be unable to promote it for the revenge kill).

Knowing that my SF Machamp would immediately be taken down by Uxie I promoted Donphan but after using Crobat G for “Flash Bite” and “Poison Fang” he was able to Dragon Rush me to kill the Donphan in just 2 turns.

I was then able to use SF Machamp to “Take Out” his Garchomp C LV.X only for him to use “Zen Blade” on his Uxie LV.X to 1HKO Machamp. I then promoted a second Machamp to “Take Out” the Uxie, only for another Uxie LV.X to appear next turn and get the 1HKO with “Zen Blade”.

My only hope now was Donphan but with an active Phanpy with energy but no Donphan or belt I couldn’t do much and he was able to “Bright Look” a benched Machoke with Luxray LV.X before using “Zen Blade” on his Uxie LV.X for the final KO.


So a winnable match was lost but with a Luxchomp player the calibre of Charles you need to be on your game to win even when you have a good matchup and with a bad start and a horrible misplay I was always going to lose.

Round 5: Mark (Yanmega / Jumpluff)

pokebeach.comYou may remember from my Manchester States report that I felt confident about facing any deck other than Gyarados or my friend’s Yanmega / Jumpluff deck. Worryingly, this was a different person playing Yanmega / Jumpluff (it’s spreading!!).

Mark is another guy I know quite well and we always have fun matches. This one was no exception and it was a thoroughly enjoyable game with lots of laughter.

He goes first with a Sableye start and I start with Uxie and Regirock. Yes, Regirock again! As an aside, I play 4 Machop and 3 Phanpy and this is the second game in a row I start with neither! I got a T1 Machamp SF but my reluctance to play Unown Q cost me as I had no way to get Uxie out of the Active Spot.

He got a T2 Yanmega Prime and seeing an opportunity to do a quick 60 with no revenge kill I hurriedly looked for the Level X, only to find it prized. So I did 20 with “Psychic Restore” and waited for Uxie to die, which happened the very next turn as Yanmega can do 70 with “Sonic Boom”.

From here I promoted Donphan and the game progressed very slowly. He was using warp point and both of Yanmega Prime’s attacks to do damage without killing anything and Yanmega’s resistance to fighting was stopping me taking any prizes.

At one point I used “Fighting Tag” to hit a belted Yanmega Prime for 120 with my Machamp Prime but that fell 10 short of the 130 required for the 1HKO at which point he swapped Yanmega for Jumpluff and fell 10 short of Knocking Out my Machamp Prime.

The next turn I used “Champ Buster” to Knock Out Jumpluff but he was then able to use Junk Arm to recover a Pokéturn with which he re-used a Crobat G to “Flash Bite” for the KO on Machamp Prime. He then promoted Smeargle and used “Portrait”.

I laughed when the only supporter he found was Seeker but that was before I realised he could pick up (and completely heal) the belted Yanmega Prime that had 10 HP remaining. I then used Donphan’s “Earthquake” to Knock Out Smeargle and bring it to 4-3 (in his favor) on prizes.

When time was called I had one chance to win or draw the game. In order to win the game I had to KO his belted Yanmega Prime so he retreated it and put up a Crobat, knowing this could not be Knocked Out by a Belted Donphan.

What I did was desperately trying to get a Machamp Prime going so I could “Fighting Tag” in and get the 1HKO. I had a Machoke on the bench with a DCE but I was unable to find a Machamp Prime and lost the game. Then I realised this was not the only option.

What I SHOULD have done was attach the DCE to Donphan (rather than to Machoke to aid the “Fighting Tag”) so that I could retreat him the following turn. At which point I could have gotten a SF Machamp. In order to protect his belted Yanmega (which would give me the win, not the draw, if I could kill it) he had to retreat it and all his benched Pokémon were basics, meaning any he put up could be “Taken Out”.

This would have guaranteed me the draw (taking the game to sudden death) but I was only looking for the “Fighting Tag” knockout.


So I was now 2-3 and unable to make top cut. I felt a little aggrieved that of my 5 games so far one of them was the winner of the previous states, two were top 5 players in the country (and had been all season) and the other 2 were decks that had MASSIVE advantages against me but at the end of the day you have to beat the best players to win and I fell short.

Plus, in two of the games I missed opportunities to win so I can only blame myself. I was very thankful though that all 5 games were very enjoyable and against people who were great fun to play.

Round 6: Ollie (Luxchomp)

pokebeach.comOllie is another guy I don’t know but he was a nice enough guy. He was very quiet though which did become a problem because, though I asked repeatedly, he would not announce what he was doing.

This did disadvantage him though as every time he evolved his Garchomp C, he forgot to announce “Healing Breath” or remove the damage counters from his Pokémon SP. By this point I knew top cut was out so I was not so worried about winning.

I started with a lone Machop and, with no other Pokémon, I attached a belt (to reduce the chances of a donk) and passed. He built up 2 Garchomp Cs while I managed to get a T3 Machamp and “Took Out” his Chatot MD. He then used “Dragon Rush” on my Machamp, failing to Knock it Out, so I used “Take Out” next turn to kill his Garchomp.

He then pulled out quite a genius move by belting his Luxray LV.X, making him able to get 2 Prizes from my belted Machamp as well as putting him out of 1HKO range from Donphan’s Earthquake, which, having only 2 energy on him, was the attack I had to use next turn as I was unable to find a belt or a 3rd energy.

Next turn he Poké turned his Luxray (denying me 2 Prizes) and promoted an Uxie, which I was able to KO using “Heavy Impact” the following turn when I had a 3rd energy on Donphan.

Next turn he used “Bright Look” to kill a Mesprit but Donphan got the revenge KO with “Heavy Impact”. He then used a Garchomp X LV.X to get the 2HKO on Donphan as I was unable to rip the belt I needed to KO Garchomp and he managed to use a Pokéturn to get rid of the 90 damage I could do.

At this point I had a Machop and a Machoke on the bench and a SF Machamp and Rare Candy in hand, meaning one could be lost and I could still get a Machamp out and finish out the game with “Take Out”. During this time I was controlling my bench very carefully and put an Uxie up a placeholder while he had a belted Garchomp C LV.X with 80 HP left active.

pokebeach.comI topdecked an Uxie LV.X so levelled up Uxie to increase the chances of it surviving next turn. I then attached a DCE energy purely so I could retreat him next turn. I then used “Trade Off” (because I could) only to rip an expert belt, leaving me able to “Zen Blade” for 80 and the game. Not what I intended to do but I wasn’t about to complain.


So, I finished 3-3 and missed top cut. I was one of the highest ranked 3-3s so finishing 4-2 would have got me into top-cut but, as detailed above, I had nobody to blame but myself. I would add though that Luxchomp is out of control. I went to 5 Battle Roads and there were a few.

I went to 3 Cities and there were a lot but States was FULL of them. The top 4 at Manchester was Luxchomp, Luxchomp, Yanmega / Jumpluff and Luxchomp and today in the top 8 there were 6 Luxchomp, a Yanmega / Jumpluff and a Gengar / Garchomp.

So for my 2 Cities I went 3-2 (finishing 14th) and 3-3 (Finishing 17th) which was a significant step-down from my two 3rd place finishes out of 3 Cities. My deck works but maybe isn’t as consistent as it could be so I’m working on new decks for Battle Roads.

I’m currently building (and testing) a Machamp / Magnezone deck and a new Rogue SP deck that doesn’t use Garchomp, Luxray or Dialga. We’ll see at Battle Roads I presume…..


– Playing 5 people I knew and got along with very well

– Home turf!

– Deck not letting me down (much)

– Beating the winner of last week’s states

– Still refusing to use Luxchomp or Vilegar!

– Still being 16th in the UK rankings :D


– Very difficult matchups

– Missing top cut

– 4 out of 6 matches being Luxchomp!

Reader Interactions

6 replies

  1. Andy S

    Great article! Maybe you should add a Gengar counter or an Ambipom G, or GenChomp will just be monkeying around the whole time. :)

  2. stephen shirley

    machamp donphan won juniors in nottingham that was the only match i lost in the nottingham states

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → stephen

      The same Champ/Donphan also won London States and was 2nd at Bournemouth (in Juniors).

      I know cos I built it ;)

      Go Nathaniel!

  3. Andrew Adams

    The title is a little misleading, with the answer apparently being “yes.” Nice report though, lots of detail.

    • Ross Gilbert  → Andrew

      I know! That was the joke! :D To be fair, there was only one game where i was thoroughly beaten. I went into states trying to prove an unfavoured deck could win. I failed, but i DID get enough details to write a detailed report and, at the end of the day, isn’t that more important?

  4. jose ochoa

    Nice article, i’m currently trying to build my own Machamp/donphan deck, good to see it works even if you didn’t win all the matches, it seems really fun to play.

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