smogon.comAs I try and do with every new tournament series, this week I’m going to break down the decks you’re most likely to see and give a general opinion and what you should and should not play. Please keep in mind that this list is just for a general metagame, and that this tier system might not be in line with your local metagame.
If you’re interested in a more locale-specific article, I recommend John Kettler’s newest, in the Underground.
Before I go on, let me break down my opinion of the tier system…
Tier 1, to me, is defined as decks that will be played, and will win events.
We won’t touch on tier 2 or tier 3 decks here, but I define tier 2 as decks that will be played, but will not win, and tier 3 as decks that might be played and certainly will not win. Essentially, tier 1 decks will win events, tier 2 decks will make the cut but probably won’t go deep, and tier 3 decks won’t make the top cut.
Keep in mind that tiers mean nothing and are essentially just a ranking system that writer’s make up to make their information more presentable. I am basing this list purely off of the amount of tournament wins each deck has, and not any other irrelevant factors.
pokebeach.comObviously the best deck in the format, that goes without saying. It won 16 SPTs while the second place deck (and a deck we’ll get to in just a second), Sableye, only won 5. That is a ridiculously huge leap.
I understand that LuxChomp is the most played deck and that’s why it succeeds the most and blah blah, but as I said, I am basing this list purely off of the amount of tournament wins a deck has had, not any outside factors like that. LuxChomp has won the most tournaments, fact.
Because the format is stale at the moment and you guys have read infinite articles about each of these decks, I’m going to try and present to you with a little bit of new or off-the-wall information/techs/etc., just to provide some more interesting content.
This is kind of hard to do with LuxChomp since the deck has been around forever, but I’ll try…
I think common knowledge is that 2-1 Luxray and 3-1 Garchomp are the play. I also think that basically everyone of these decks needs a Dialga line.
I’ve never been a fan of the Dialga line in this deck and have always felt that it just made it so much less consistent, but since playing with it through States, I’ve been seeing it completely differently.
During the creation of our lists Ryan Merryfield was the first one to recommend Dialga, to my knowledge, and after trying it, the main argument I would present in it’s favor is that, if you’re willing to tech Weavile (which we were for States), to beat Gengar (one card), and Promocroak to beat Luxray (one card), why wouldn’t you be willing to tech Dialga, which helps against/beats…
and to a lesser extent…
7 cards? Seems pretty broke.
Outside of that, there’s not terribly too much innovation in the lists that I’ve been seeing. Roserade is a cool tech if your area has a lot of Sableye, but that’s not really all that new, nor is it all that good, in my opinion.
This is by far my favorite deck in the format though, so I’m hoping some interesting technology comes out of winning Regionals lists. :D
vs. Sableye – Favorable
vs. VileGar – Unfavorable
vs. Gyarados – Favorable
vs. DialgaChomp – Slightly Favorable
I won’t be addressing the different variations (Chenlock, LoxChomp, etc.) of this deck, and instead will just be addressing it as a whole. Sableye, Sablelock, SPionage, etc. either way, it’s the deck that’s based around Sableye, Garchomp, and sometimes Smeargle, Luxray, Blaziken, and Honchkrow.
I think the deck has been around long enough that we all know what I’m talking about. I like the Blaziken and Honchkrow SV version the best, but obviously that’s a metagame choice.
Sableye won the second most SPTs, with 6 wins under it’s belt, including mine in Washington. I didn’t get a chance to get a good look at the winning player’s list as nobody seemed to know who he was, but I’ve heard that it was J-Wittz Sableye lists from a recent Underground article, in which case I believe it featured Blaziken and Honchkrow. Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
I tested this deck extensively for Regionals and decided that it wasn’t a good choice for me. LuxChomp seemed to get everything online so much faster and more efficiently than it, and I have pretty bad luck so coin flips and Judging to 4 isn’t always the best for me.
It’s still a deck I enjoy playing (I took 2nd with it at a CC the only time I played it), and I may end up tweaking a few things and taking it to Regionals, but as of now it’s pretty low on my list of choices.
pokebeach.comI’ll throw out that if you’re playing the list I think you need to run 4 Sableye and as much Special Dark as you can fit, I may actually forgo Smeargle altogether just because of how much Vile/Lost/VileLostGar there is bound to be.
I also think that you need a tech of either Blaziken or Luxray, which is almost a complete metagame call, really. I’d probably go with Luxray just because it’s a much more powerful card than Blaziken, but that choice is ultimately up to you. Honchkrow SV is also undoubtedly the play, in my mind.
One point that I think is kind of obvious but apparently is not to many players is that you absolutely NEED to be running all the mirror counters you can in this deck. You already have a less efficient set-up than Luxray, and by omitting Dragonite or Ambipom from your lists you’re just putting yourself in that much worse of a spot
vs. LuxChomp – Unfavorable
vs. VileGar – Even
vs. Gyarados – Slightly Favorable
vs. DialgaChomp – Even to Unfavorable
VileGar took down 4 State Championships, placing it third on our list. It’s also important to note that on the list I’m reading from (which can be found here), LostGar with a Vileplume tech and the actual VileGar deck are separated into two different decks, so the results may be a bit skewed.
I guess this is also a good time to mention that I’m not basing this off of tops at all, purely wins, which means that there might be a deck that isn’t in the top 5 in wins but has more than enough tops to make up for it. I understand that those decks are obviously very good and valid, but for the purposes of this list I felt it was best to go with the decks that could go deep enough into the cut to win more often than the others.
pokebeach.comInterestingly enough, I think the best version of this deck is one that runs some kind of LostGar tech. Not a LostGar deck w/ Vileplume, mind you, but rather a VileGar deck w/ Lost World. I haven’t tested this deck for Regionals at all (we’ll talk about why in just a second), but something like this breakdown…
Is probably the correct Gengar breakdown to go with. I’d also just add a miser’s copy of Lost World. I definitely wouldn’t make this a main focus of the deck, but even without the Lost World win condition Gengar Prime is a powerful card, and one that might as well be made use of.
As I said before, I’m not playing this deck at Regionals, for two main reasons…
– It limits your options. I think the best way I’ve heard this problem described is that it essentially gives you one thing to do a turn. You draw, and then you can play a supporter and/or an energy, and then attack. The deck can’t play trainers by design, so there’s not really much else you can do.
Not only does this limit how fun the deck is to play (which shouldn’t be a big factor in deciding which deck to run, mind you), but it also sets you up for some atrocious hands and completely terrible games. I understand all the pluses the deck receives from running the Vileplume engine and the trainer lock, but I’ve seen more great players fail with this deck more than any other, and that alone is reason enough for me not to play it.
– The second reason is that it doesn’t utilize the most powerful card in the format, Garchomp C LV.X. I don’t think I’ve ever written about this before, but part of my philosophy with card games is that I am only interested in playing the best cards, and nothing else.
pokebeach.comThat’s not to say that I think that Garchomp based decks are going to win every Regional championship, nor do I think it’s the right play for every meta, but when there is such a clear best-card-in-format, I can’t help but to play it.
A good example of my mentality is one that’s thrown around in Magic: The Gathering a lot. I can’t remember who first said it, but when deciding which deck to play, someone once held up two cards, a Goblin Guide and a Jace, The Mind Sculptor and poised the question “Which would you rather cast?”
I understand that reference may not be the best to present on a Pokémon website, but I think if you’re familiar with card games it should be easy enough to understand.
Essentially, Jace is a much more intrinsically powerful card than Goblin Guide, and I personally would much rather know that my sickest play is a Jace over a Goblin Guide any day.
Another good example in Pokémon terms is why I didn’t use the Scizor deck for States. We had built it, we had been testing it and we had tweaked the list multiple times, but in the end I looked at my LuxChomp list and my Scizor list and decided that I would rather play Power Sprays than Sage’s Training and would feel more comfortable opening with a Garchomp than a Scyther.
I’m not sure how many of you follow how decks perform in each State, but Scizor ended up winning that event, proving that I’m not always right (I know, right?) and that this system isn’t always perfect. In the end though, the point still stands: Garchomp is the most powerful card in the format, and I won’t be playing a deck without it anytime soon.
vs. LuxChomp – Favorable
vs. Sableye – Even
vs. Gyarados – Very Favorable
vs. DialgaChomp – Unfavorable
Gyarados comes in, tied with VileGar with 4 SPT wins. The numbering of this list doesn’t really matter, but I decided I’d throw VileGar above it simply because VileGar variants also won events, making their total higher than Gyarados’. Don’t read too much into it, though.
To be honest I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this deck. I’m not a fan of it whatsoever and I think I’m in the minority on that.
It’s not that it’s not good, it’s obviously tier one and is a perfectly acceptable choice, I just think it’s poorly positioned at the moment, especially now that the buzz is around all the “Trainerdos” decks that would seem to just scoop to Vileplume based decks.
I haven’t tested this deck for Regionals as I never considered it something I would play so please feel free to correct me in the comments.
What I will say about this deck is that it definitely has merit. Austin Baggs has been playing it with high degrees of success since Cities, and 2009 World Champion Stephen Silvestro made the top 8-of his State Championship with it.
Definitely don’t let my opinion on the deck ruin it as a choice for you, particularly if you think it’s a good play for your meta or are super comfortable with it. It’s a perfectly legit play, just not something that I’m sure is the absolute best.
vs. LuxChomp – Unfavorable
vs. Sableye – Slightly Unfavorable
vs. VileGar – Very Unfavorable
vs. DialgaChomp – Favorable
DialgaChomp rounds out our top 5 with 3 SPT victories under it’s belt. You may remember that I was incredibly high on this deck during City Championships, and even called it the best deck in the format.
To an extent I still believe that to be true, although I admit that I decided fairly early on that it wasn’t the play for States. In my re-evaluation for Regionals, I found it to be a very interesting play for a number of reasons…
Firstly, it handedly beats Gengar. I’m not sure how many Gengar players there are around the country, but in my area the hype hasn’t died down all that much at all.
There isn’t terribly too much LostGar, but it’s there, and VileGar is even more popular. If you’re looking to beat Gengar or Vileplume based decks, Dialga is probably the right choice for you.
Secondly, as I’ve talked about a lot in my articles, the deck just doesn’t lose. It’s not really a deck that has ridiculously huge blow-out wins like LuxChomp, all of it’s wins are more nuanced.
Rarely is there a time when Dialga has an extremely easy game against any deck, but the same can be said for the opposite – rarely does Dialga ever get blown-out by any deck. It’s a deck that takes a considerable amount of skill and effort to play, and makes you work for each one of it’s wins.
If you choose to play it this weekend be prepared to have a lot of close games, but also be prepared to end up winning most of those games, provided you know what you’re doing.
pokebeach.comTo look at the other side of things, I completely understand why some would write the deck off as invalid almost immediately.
As I said above, it doesn’t completely own any games and it can be clunky and inefficient (depending on your build, of course), one could also argue that it’s almost a strictly worst choice than LuxChomp (I wouldn’t necessarily agree, but I can see the points) particularly in the top cut, where time limits can become an issue.
If you choose to run it this weekend, the one piece of advice I have for you is that the stadium build is not the play, unless your meta is infested with speed Machamp decks.
I’ve tested it a fair amount and everytime I’ve ever tried to sleeve up the Stadium/Toxitank/Staraptor suite — that is, 2-3 stadiums, 1/1 toxitank and a 1-1 staraptor line — I’ve always felt that the deck becomes extremely clunky and loses and edge in the mirror.
I even tried to build what I called a minimalist stadium line with 1 Stadium, 1-1 Staraptor, and 1 Twins, with the idea being that when I went down in prizes in the mirror I would promote Staraptor, Level Up, Fast Call for Twins to get the two pieces of the puzzle I was missing (Stadium/Energy Gain/Double Colorless), and revenge kill the Colorless attacker on the other side of the board. Ultimately I found that this version probably needed more testing, but in the end I wasn’t happy with the inconsistency of it.
I’m also aware that I’m in the minority by stating the above, and I’m certainly not trying to argue that I’m clearly correct. I mean, the majority of DialgaChomps that have performed well have been the stadium version, so who am I to argue? It just doesn’t fit in with my playstyle and I can’t see it being the best choice for the majority of metagames out there.
vs. LuxChomp – Slightly Unfavorable
vs. Sableye – Even to Favorable
vs. VileGar – Favorable
vs. Gyarados – Unfavorable
So, what am I playing for Regionals?
To tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure yet. As per usual, I have a few decks sleeved up and ready to go, and will probably test with the team on Friday night and decide then. What I can tell you is that the deck I end up playing will contain the following…
– Techs for the mirror and as much consistency as possible. After running things like Weavile G to counter Gengar in my States deck, taking out Promocroak, lowering my Call count to 4, considering playing Houndoom G, etc.
I’ve decided that my Regionals list will focus on consistency, with only the most relevant techs even being considered. At least if I do poorly at Regionals I can rest assured that it wasn’t because of poor list design.
So, what are YOU playing this weekend?