“What? No subtitles or tarot gimmicks today? WHAT GIVES, KETTLER?!”
Nope – none at all! On this day after Independence Day, I just want to talk about the most American subject possible: Canadian Nationals!
(Well, maybe it’s not “that” American…)
Anyway, the main discussion will be divided into three parts: analysis of the winning Juniors deck; observations about top-performing Seniors decks; and a fairly thorough review of just about everything Masters, down to every “new” deck in the top cut. Throughout each section, I will give some opinions about how this event will ultimately impact U.S. Nationals, Worlds, and beyond.
pokegym.netUnfortunately, the one division I worked hardest to find solid information on I came up driest for: I didn’t really hear much about the field’s metagame at large, and even solidly-based data on the top cut was scarce. However, thanks to some early information, we do know what made it to the finals:
From this information, I’m going to make some bold extrapolations. First, I believe that the field was probably loaded with Donphan: it’s a great card in this format, an easy play for Juniors, and isn’t that expensive to buy and trade for, so it would make a lot of sense that players used it.
Furthermore, that would also help explain why a Kingdra/Mega/Phan rose to the top in the fashion that it did, as the player likely had several great matchups. While there is some risk in making this assumption, since I really don’t know for a _fact_ what else was there, I do feel that this is spot-on.
Discussing the specific decks that made the finals, we’re already well-familiar with Donchamp: I’ve talked about it some, and other writers have gone into full-blown detail about it themselves. For those reasons, as well as the fact that I really don’t know if he played any inspired techs or not, we will be skipping any thorough analysis of this deck.
The winner’s deck, on the other hand, is a totally separate matter. My challenge in communicating the accurateness of this deck is entirely in the lines: between Kingdra, Yanmega, and Donphan, any one of them could be the primary focus. So instead of trying to figure this out, I’ll just show you my at-first-glance take on the deck:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 32
Energy – 8
(Later in the article, I will be discussing a similar deck, albeit with several different choices to account for its accuracy)
pokegym.netThe core strategy is relatively certain: disrupt and deny a setup with strong, efficient Yanmega attacks, and then put things in range via Kingdra Prime. Donphan has been relegated to tech status, but it still serves an essential purpose in clutch KOs of Magnezone Primes via Earthquake and PlusPower.
However, if you want to give this more of a Donphan focus, you can actually change all energy to Fighting/Rainbow, and then cut any combination of Judge/Juniper/Yanma/Yanmega for a bigger Phan line. Alternatively, if you want room for a Rayquaza/Deoxys LEGEND counter, you could easily use one or two of those spaces for a Bouffalant/Zoroark.
I’ve chosen to only run there of all clutch trainers: none of them are the focus of the deck, and I want to keep all my spots open for disruption, consistency, and versatility. However, if you want a 4th of something, then consider one of the above cuts. Finally, energy may seem low, but you actually don’t need that much – after all, Yanmega is your focus, and it requires no energy! However, even in clutch spots, you can attack with Target attack via Rainbow.
This list has been goldfished extensively, so I can vouch for its consistency, but it is otherwise untested. For that reason, if you use something close to it right away, then you do so at your own peril: its matchups and late-game are all very much unknown quantities, so I wholeheartedly encourage you to test HEAVILY in these last few days if this has suddenly become a serious choice. Alternatively, save the idea until Worlds, or just keep it on tab to test.
On that note, I don’t expect these results to really impact U.S. Nationals so much as mirror them. By that, I don’t mean to imply that Kingdra/Yanmega is necessarily going to win Juniors; rather, I just see U.S. Nationals as being an event dominated by Donphan, which is in turn dominated by a winner with the right metagame choices.
This could be a prime time to play a Magnezone variant with solid anti-Donphan options, because I see at least a few players switching to this deck at the last second on the “well it won something, right?” rationale.
pokegym.netAlthough Juniors information left much to be desired, Seniors data was much more encompassing, and in my opinion, much more interesting. I can’t really offer any info on the metagame at large, but this top eight cut is easily some of the greatest diversity I’ve ever seen out of this age group.
1st Seed: Boyce F. (Yanmega/Vileplume/Mew/Jumpluff/Muk)
2nd Seed: Kabir V. (Embzone)
3rd Seed: Joye G. (Reshiram/Emboar)
*4th: Andrew E. (Kingdra/Jirachi/Yanmega – Winner)
*5th: Jacob L. (Embzone – 2010 Seniors World Champion)
6th: Antoine B. (Reshiram/Emboar)
7th: Nathan G. (Samurott/Kyogre-Groudon LEGEND)
8th: Ashir K. (Illumise/Volbeat)
First, let’s discuss Boyce’s concept, considered by many to be the tournament’s “secret deck.” Below you will find my somewhat personal take on it: unlike the Kingdra/Donphan/Yanmega, I’m going to try hard to keep this close to what was played.
Pokémon – 26
Trainers – 17
Energy – 12
Open spots – 5
If you think this crazy deck might look somewhat familiar, then you’d be right: Tom Hall actually discussed a not-too dissimilar concept in his video article, featuring Mew/Muk/Plume/Metagross. However, that’s about the closest it gets: nobody else on UG has really written on it until now.
pokegym.netYour core strategy is actually split into two separate game plans: to either go for the early game Plume/Mega rush, or to aim for a more conservative disruption/heavy-hit plan via Mew. A majority of the time, these two plans will mix into one, in which you See Off Muk, lure up a heavy-retreater, and then begin clinching the game with a bunch of Target Attacks. Likewise, you can just turn your Mews into vicious KO’ers via a Jumpluff See Off.
Some of you might find the absence of Rare Candy weird, and I would agree with you; however, this is supposed to be a replica before being about my own personal style, and from what two different people have told me, the Masters list did not run it. However, I can’t say that the Senior winner “didn’t” use it, so your open spots could easily go toward these.
I have no confirmation on whether or not they ran Spinarak, but since it’s such a good option in this list, I’m just going to go on a limb and suggest it anyway. In the same vein as Chatot MD’s “Chatter lock” for Sableyes and Spiritombs, Spinarak’s Spider Web can also be used indefinitely to lock in unsuspecting Cleffas.
With Vileplume in play, this shuts off every method of escape for most decks, so the strategy is to repeatedly use Spider Web until the opponent decks out, or until time expires and you draw your prize to win on sudden death. Granted, this works better the earlier you get Vileplume out, but even without Candy, I see this list cranking it out turn three/turn four most games.
Since this runs Rainbow, you actually have a ton of options for additional See Off techs. In addition to Tom’s recommended Metagross UL, I would also consider looking into Zoroark BW for an even better Embzone match. By being able to See Off Zoroark quickly, you will have effectively turned each and every one of your Mews into potent counters to not just RDL, but Magnezone Prime and Emboar #19 (“attack” Emboar) as well.
Update: As of finishing this article, I have been informed by PokémonEdmonton that these players did in fact run Candies, while they did not run Tyrogue. As stated above, I would recommend the Candies, but I would also include the Tyrogue as well. Unless you are starved for space, it is still one of the format’s most lethal techs.
Moving right along, we also see a Kingdra/Yanmega without the presence of Donphan Prime. This time, though, it features Jirachi as a prominent tech:
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 30
Energy – 8
Unlike the prior Kingdra/Yanmega list, this has more capability of not only attacking with Kingdra, but to set up a very grand combo. By repeatedly “Spray Splashing” vulnerable evolved Pokémon over the course of a game (say, a candied Emboar), you can very easily close with a brutal Time Hollow attack, devolving 1-3 sufficiently damaged Pokémon for major prizes.
pokegym.netIn order to accommodate this, I have upped the entire support line for Kingdra, as well as maximized by Reversal potential. At play here is a very subtle, yet clever abuse of the way in which people play around Reversal decks: since players normally bench two Tepig or Magnemite to avoid losing access in the early game, you’ll normally end up with one dead via Reversal/Sonicboom, and with the other successfully evolved.
Thus, opponents are placed into a catch 22: they either give up their basics in present time to Yanmega, or in future time to Jirachi. This is the likely reason why even with a decent showing, Kingdra/Yanmega was able to thwart Emboar variants at least a few times.
The last two unusual rogue decks that showed up in Seniors cut are a Samurott/Kyogre-Groudon LEGEND list, as well as an insanely fun-sounding Volbeat/Illumise deck. Since I have no solid information on these decks whatsoever, I will skip any thorough analysis. However, here are some general ideas and musings about both…
Samurott/KGL appears to be a deck that originally started out with just the KGL, but quickly discovered that it needed something durable to both open and close games. By virtue of its ability, as well as its efficient attack, Samurott can serve that purpose against many decks: as an early attacker for the first prize or two, or as your post-Mega Tidal Wave finisher.
Beyond this, there are two really cool directions you could possibly take the deck in: you could either put an emphasis on Samurott #31, for its synergetic Pike attack, or you could run F Energy to actually let you use KGL to clean the game up itself (Massive Eruption).
As for Volbeat/Illumise, its core strategy is fairly straightforward: rush early with Illumise by benching four Volbeats to fuel your “Vulcan Beat,” with the occasional “Illumisile” from Volbeat to KO easy benched targets. You could take this in two main directions: either construct a Vileplume lock to accentuate the early rush of your Vol-Mise, or make the list a turbo build with 4 PlusPower, 4 Reversal, and deck thin.
pokegym.netFurthermore, both variants can run Seekers to allow for solid donk plays whenever the opponent has only two Pokémon in play. Needless to say, you’ll be scoring some easy wins occasionally, but unless you have amazing fortune with coin flips, then I would feel extremely uneasy with this.
Despite all that potential, I don’t believe that either of these decks are competitive. Considering that all three age groups were full of decks that should do really well against either of these, I would probably never recommend them as Nationals plays. I would like to offer my congratulations to these two clever rogue players, but these decks are certainly not for everyone.
Closing out the rest of the top cut, we see one very familiar face discussed in countless articles: Emboar. This suggests to me that the Seniors field was probably full of the deck, and that the American field will be as well. I feel like it’s all entirely up in the air whether or not Worlds will look the same – that’s what United States Nationals is for.
However, Seniors as an age group generally trends toward what’s popular, and is generally won by what’s popular as well, so if you are headed into U.S. Nationals and/or Worlds, still plan heavily for a flood of Seniors Emboar.
Unlike the Juniors and Seniors, we have what appears to be a somewhat “complete” picture of Canadian Nationals, with commentary on regulation rounds, as well as a complete, relatively accurate list of what made day two.
Rather than early assumptions suggesting a strong Emboar appearance, later Pokégym testimony confirmed there to be a large Yanmega presence during swiss. As a matter of fact, this extends overwhelmingly into top cut: of sixteen people, eight lists included Yanmega Prime, which is about as dominant as people were predicting Emboar to be!
…And with the top cut in mind, let’s do our last major set of deck analyses…
Masters Division Top Sixteen:
1 Reed M 7-0(Kingdra/Yanmega/Jirachi)
2 Julian W 6-1(Yanmega/Magnezone)
3 Charles D 6-1 (Donphan/Yanmega/Weavile)
4 Alaric M-B 6-1(Ambipom/Weavile/Slowking)
5 Simon L 6-1 (Embzone)
6 Sebastian C 6-1(Yanmega/Magnezone)
7 Edward K 6-1 (Zekrom)
8 Andrew V 5-2(Yanmega/Magnezone)
9 Juan c L 5-2 (Yanmega/Vileplume/Muk/Mew/jumpluff)
10 Sebastien P 5-2 (Zekrom/yanmega)
11 Matthew K 5-2 (Yanmega/Vileplume/Muk/Mew/jumpluff)
Former 12th (dropped): Curtis Lyon (Yanmega/Vileplume/Muk/Mew/Jumpluff)
12 Colman F 5-2 (Donphan/Cincinno)
13 Matthew B 5-2 (Mewgar/Slowking/Mime Jr.)
14 Zach L 5-2(Embzone)
15 Sean L R 5-2 (Blastoise/Feraligatr)
16 Sebastian S 5-2 Cincinno/Kingdra
pokegym.netAs previously mentioned, Kingdra/Mega and “Mew SD” were multi-divisional hits, so if you’ve scrolled past the rest of the article just for Masters analysis, then you ought to scroll back up to at least Seniors to get the full picture. As for the rest of this field, it is surprisingly Emboar-dry, featuring a meager two…Out of sixteen.
However, despite my lack of enthusiasm about Emboar/Magnezone, I still feel like these results do not reflect how well it ought to do at U.S. Nationals, since there will be a far greater quantity (and arguably quality) of player using the deck on average. So just because it didn’t show up here…Doesn’t mean that you should discount its chances of dealing major damage.
Among the other surprise successes, we have Donphan/Yanmega/Weavile; Ambipom/Weavile/Slowking; Yanmega/Magnezone; Donphan/Cincinno; and Blastoise/Feraligatr. Some of these decks are actually not too different from what we’ve seen before: a solid Donmega/Weavile is probably like what Fulop or I have posted already with just a few plusses and minuses to include 3-3 Mega, 2-2 Weavile, and an appropriate number of Copycats and Judges.
As for Blastoise/Feraligatr, it’s only a few cards off from Blastoise/Floatzel, so if you want to get a good feel for what it looks like, that too takes only a few tweaks to look just like what Pokémandan posted yesterday, or what David Reichenberger discussed months ago in “Making a Splash.”
Others, though, need some real explaining. Let’s first get into that very awesome Ambipom lock (my take – not necessarily the T8 finisher’s):
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 18
Energy – 13
Opens spots – 8
pokegym.netThis is probably the first time I have posted a full-fledged “skeleton” without some other purpose behind it, but that’s precisely what this is! You really don’t have a lot of core things you need: get Ambipom’s Astonish going ASAP, augmented by Weavile’s Claw Snag and Judge – ideally in the reverse order I listed them in: Judge/Chip Off/Astonish.
This ought to wreck your opponent’s hand, and with Slowking on the bench, you should have solid control of any top decks that could trigger a comeback.
You may find it strange that I have included PlusPowers as part of a skeleton. The reason for this is because, much like any other old match, baby flips can and will kill you if you allow them to, so your imperative is to kill those little buggers as soon as you can. The last thing you want to see happening is a 20 damage Astonish to a Cleffa…Only to see it Eeeeeeek for a fresh new hand.
One of the players who did the best with this deck, Sebastian C., actually play-tested Mega/Zone heavily against me for a few weeks leading up to his Nationals, and I have to say I was very impressed with its performance against just about every random rogue I could muster.
pokegym.netHowever, he requested I don’t reveal his list to anyone – something that is very commonly done, and commonly respected. As a matter of fact, that’s what made Adam Capriola’s team so successful for Worlds 2005: they all kept mum about their deck, and as a result, two of their members made the final four of the event.
But the end result is that I want to acknowledge a testing partner’s request, so I can’t post a list. However, I guarantee that the below advice will lead you down the right path in building “the best” list for this deck:
#1 – Keep it simple. People try too hard with techs, and end up including some of the absolute weirdest things on Earth. Furthermore, I feel it’s a flawed approach to make this a quasi-Zekrom/Shaymin deck: it isn’t going to be that, so keep your focus straight, and you’ll have the perfect variant to either test with, or test against.
#2 – Run at least one copy of Pachirisu Call of Legends. About the only major weakness this deck has (aside from some obvious Donphan issues) is a lack of energy acceleration. By running Pachirisu, however, you shore up this issue very nicely.
#3 – …Don’t run Emboar in it! You get the warm and cuddly feeling of running Magnezone “without” Emboar, so don’t deprive yourself of that! If the deck were called “Magnezone/Yanmega/Emboar,” then I would most certainly call it that.
Finally, we’ll close off with a nifty Donphan variant that came out of the tournament. It doesn’t seem as competitive as some of the other decks that came out of this event, but if built right, then it’d be every bit capable of challenging some of the best decks in the format.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 28
Energy – 12
This list is much like the one that started today’s article: it runs primary, secondary, and tertiary attackers. Like Cindra before it, Cinphan runs off of a heavy supporter engine meant to help maintain a long-term Cincinno swarm; however, it has all of the workings for a good Donphan push as well.
So far, I’ve been seeing some great results with this, but my only reservation would pertain to the lack of Switching. Perhaps Double Colorless attachments will solve that issue in the long run, but those things are worth gold in-game for Cincinno variants. Plus, nothing beats SSU and Switch this format when it comes to methods for bouncing back an active, four Retreat Cost monster.
The Final Word on Masters
Despite all of this talk about cool decks…What was the winner at the end of the day?
Zekrom. And not just any Zekrom, but one (according to Sebastian, at least) running Pokégear, Double Colorless Energy, four Pokémon Circulator, and Reshiram. What is this?
The more information that comes out of this event, the more controversial this win becomes. But in spite of all the talk, the answer to my rhetorical question is both sobering and simple: it’s the deck of a national champion. And last time I checked, that was a big deal!
In addition, the scary thing about this list is that past Reshiram, everything is very intuitive: fast Outrages (as well as conservation of Lightning), Supporter-searching, guaranteed baby elimination, etc…All of that has a purpose, and while the list might have not been optimal, I scarcely see even National champions claim perfection.
But past that, it gets even simpler: Yanmega rose above the competition, and Zekrom capitalized beautifully on that. Congratulations, Edward, for a great performance, and best of luck at Worlds.
But while unusual techs or Zekrom may not be everyone’s favorite choices, Canadian National’s first major impact on U.S. Masters is that it will embolden Zekrom players. Personally, I still don’t like Zekrom as a top tier deck, but plenty of people do, so no matter what deck you’re testing…You best be prepared for both straight and Yanmega Zekroms.
Don’t discount Yanmega Prime, though: just because it lost some games to Zekrom doesn’t mean that it isn’t brutal to a nice chunk of the field. This article is chock-full of Yanmega lists, so I suppose this is the starting point.
Finally, take this as an encouraging sign for rogue in HGSS-on! If you have a well-tested rogue in mind for U.S. Nationals this weekend, or some secret deck for the LCQ/Worlds, then don’t doubt yourself – if it’s good, THEN USE IT! Lots of great Canadian players took bold risks for Nationals this year, and for the most part, it paid off for them. You can be that person too.
As of the Tuesday online publication of this article, there will be just three days left until U.S. Nationals, and a less than a month and a half until the grinder. I hope you all have your decks chosen, but even if you don’t, then keep pushing! There are a lot of great selections in this format, and while HGSS-on certainly has some huge flaws (namely, the flips), you can overcome most of those flaws with your skill.
I look forward to meeting many of you for the first time, and I hope that everyone playing at Nationals does an excellent job.
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