Jay’s Gym: I did it! – A Detailed Perspective on Playing Marathons

Actual photo of Jay completing the Chicago Marathon. (Not really.)

It was touch and go there for a while, but I survived the Chicago Marathon and had a great time seeing old friends and making a lot of new ones. It’s all the amazing people in this game which keeps me playing. After a tournament it’s not a crazy close game that I won or anything like that I remember, it’s all the stupid stuff and good times with friends.

Marathons are certainly no exception to this, and anyone who travels to one of these and doesn’t go with a group of friends is denying themselves one of the most fun aspects of a marathon, not to mention the extra money they are spending. Going along with this, I owe a huge thank you to Carl who was amazing and let me stay with him the whole week of the marathon. I have so many amazing friends in and out of this game that make me who I am.

Now getting into the actual article, I’m going to spend a good portion of it talking about the Chicago Marathon, what I played, what I learned, as well as some surprises that popped up over the course of the event. States is also right around the corner so I’ll also be giving some first impressions and lists heading in. The format is really starting to take shape and even with EXs, I expect a very open meta at States.

Each week I get really interested in what the other writers are thinking about the new set and what they’re testing, so hopefully my article fit right into this category as well.


I always loved the idea of marathons; a week of hanging out with friends, playing cards, and the random shenanigans that accompany the first two. But I always hated the huge advantage it gave to a small handful of players.

Up until this year, the only major marathon has been in Georgia and the number of points a few players received coming out of that marathon was ridiculous. Last year there was a small group of players who nearly had Worlds invites coming out of Cities, in large part due to that marathon.

I think it’s crazy that a player can have an invite to Worlds by playing in nothing larger than a City Championship. I also felt it was simply unreasonable that a player had to make a very long and expensive car ride to Georgia if they want to stay in the running for an invite.

Marathons after all are very exclusive and realistically a good portion of people are unable to attend them. First, they occur during the normal workweek which makes it near impossible for anybody with a “real” job to get the time off. Even many college and high school students can struggle with getting that much time off from work as well.

Secondly, they can be very expensive even if you do it “cheaply,” and while doing things like carpooling, splitting hotel rooms, and heading to the grocery store instead of the drive-through can cut down on costs, the costs still add up.

This was the first year that we really saw an increase in the number of marathons: Chicago, New Jersey, Florida, and California all had marathons this year. More marathons means they are becoming far more widely accessible for people, but I still feel they offer too much of an advantage. While I love the Championship Point system (despite a few flaws), it actually gives a great deal more advantage to marathon players than the old Elo system did, since they never risk anything when they play.

With the old system, whenever you played you were risking points and one bad performance could throw away the hard work of quite a few previous tournaments. While I certainly didn’t like this system because of how much pressure it put on players, I also don’t like a system where a player who has the time/money to play in 20+ Cities can do so with no downside.

We really need to find a happy medium between the two systems. Don’t take my previous statement to mean that marathons are a cakewalk; the competition level in Chicago was really high, which often times made these tournaments feel more like States than Cities. A player could win one day and then pilot the same deck the next day to a 3-3 record.

Also please don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the idea of marathons, I just wish they would do a bit more to balance the system. I don’t think any system should ever reward somebody for dropping/sitting out, nor do I believe a player should ever be punished for playing.

I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of disagreement over this, but I would love to see a limit to how many tournaments a player can play in that will count toward their Championship Points. Perhaps still keep the same best finishes such as 5 for Cities, but have it where a player can only earn Championship Points at their first 8-10 Cities.

If they want to play in more than 10 Cities to try and earn prizes or block points then let them, but only the first 10 will go toward earning Championship Points. This would not take away the advantage of marathons (being able to play in a string of Cities over a short time period), but at the same it won’t put people out of the running who are unable to attend marathons.

My last suggestion would be to retool the point system a bit. I got most of these point values from Ryan A and then made a few more changes I would like, but I like his point system a lot more than the one we have now. I especially like the idea of adding kickers to all places based on the tournament size. Winning an 80 person Cities and winning an 8 person Cities should not be worth the same number of Championship Points.

This would also cut down on players traveling to smaller and easier events in an attempt to get a lot of cheap points or at the very least not reward them as heavily for doing so. This is what I would like to see for our point system. I’m sure a lot of you have opinions on this as well and I would love to hear them on the message board.



1st: 2 CP
2nd: 1 CP


1st: 4 CP
2nd: 2 CP
3/4th: 1 CP


1st: 8 CP
2nd: 4 CP
3/4th: 2 CP
5-8th: 1 CP


1st: 12 CP
2nd: 6 CP
3/4th: 3 CP
5-8th: 1 CP



1st: 16 CP
2nd: 12 CP
3rd/4th: 8 CP
5-8th: 4 CP
9-16th: 2 CP

Kickers (per age group):

At 32: +1 to 1-8th
At 64: +1 to 1-16th
At 128: +1 to 1-32nd
At 256: +1 to 1-64th
At 512: +1 to 1-128th

The last thing I would like to see done is to not limit the size of the top cuts based on the level of tournament. Battle Roads were limited to a Top 4, Cities to a Top 8, and I believe States is a Top 16. Multiple days of the marathon we had enough player turn out for a Top 16, but were denied doing so by the Top Cut cap.

Having a larger top cut changes nothing else about the event (such as Championship Points). In fact it adds a great deal of legitimacy to the tournament, having an 80+ person tournament capped at a Top 8 makes absolutely no sense to me.

My Chicago Marathon Experience


Pokémon – 26

3 Litwick BW27
1 Litwick NVI 58
3 Lampent NVI
3 Chandelure NVI
3 Oddish UD
1 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
2 Doduo UD
2 Dodrio UD
1 Chansey HS
1 Blissey Prime
2 Bouffalant BLW 91
1 Jirachi UL
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 26

4 Pokémon Collector
4 N
4 Twins

4 Pokémon Communication
3 Cheren
3 Tropical Beach
3 Rare Candy
1 Professor Elm’s Training Method

Energy – 8

4 P
3 Double Colorless
1 Rescue

In our testing I found spreading alone with Chandelures was simply not enough to win games. In most games I was already down 2 or more Prizes by the time I got rolling, and even if I was able to start “looping” Chandelures, spreading 60 a turn was not enough to come back in many games. It was simply too hard to match hand sizes under Trainer lock for both Yanmega and Vileplume to be in the same deck.


As much Zekrom and Magnezone/Eels as I was expecting, I felt the Vileplume version was the stronger choice for the event, so I wanted to keep to that version. Bouffalant solved a big issue I had with the deck, which was putting a lot of damage on the table when I needed it, and also with Chandelure it made it very easy to set up 1HKOs. Between Twins and Pokémon Collector it was very easy to find both Bouffalant and a DCE when I needed it.

3-1 Litwick: I played 3-1 for 2 of the tournaments and I played 4 Promos for the last one. I actually didn’t own any of the Promos, so Andrew from Wisconsin really helped me out and let me borrow them all week. The reason I ran 1 copy of the Teleportation Blast Litwick is because it was situationally useful if I needed to get 10 damage on the board to set up a later KO.

Between 4 Pokémon Collector, 3 Tropical Beach, and 3 Litwick Promos I never found myself in a situation where playing 1 copy of the other Litwick to get me in trouble. I felt like I was cutting a minuscule amount of consistency for another option over the course of the game.

But I switched to all 4 Promo Litwicks because of course I had one game where I started with that lone Litwick and a rare dead hand. Thankfully, I topped a Collector on my opening draw and went off perfectly, but it was enough to scare me into sticking with the 4 Promos.

4-3-3 Chandelure: Ideally my opponent’s 6 Prizes were going to be 4 Chandelures (1 Rescue Energy) and 2 Bouffalant. This is in an ideal situation where my opponent gets 0 cheap Prizes early game. I felt 4 Chandelures were enough considering I had control of if and when my opponent Knocked them Out.

I would have loved to play 4-4-4 not because I feel 4 Chandelures are needed, but rather just for the increase chance of drawing into them. In the end though I just couldn’t bring myself to make 2 cuts for 2 unneeded cards just for the increased chance of drawing into them.

1 Gloom: I really don’t understand why I see so many 3-2-2 Vileplume lines. I manually evolve to Vileplume about 1 in 6 or 7 games. Rare Candy is infinitely better card in a deck that runs double Stage 2s like this.

1-1 Blissey: I never have the bench spots to bench a second Blissey, so I didn’t run 2-2. The only way to search out Seeker was with Twins and the one matchup I felt like I might need the Seeker (Kyurem/Electrode) I couldn’t even guarantee I was going to be down in prizes. On top of this, Seeker didn’t sway this match up enough to really warrant the spots.

1 Professor Elm’s Training Method: My original list had 4 Pokémon Communication, but I wanted another way to search out the Chandelure line besides Twins, so I made the switch to 3 Communication and 1 Elm’s. It played fine and I never really found myself in a situation early game where the restriction of not being able to grab Basics or being a Supporter hurt me.

I dropped my 4th Cheren to add back in the 4th Communication. A total of 5 search cards gave me a lot of consistency and speed in the early game, and 4 Communications had a lot of really good synergy with Tropical Beach.

4 Psychics: Ideally this allowed my to power up 2 Chandelures although most games I only got 1. I debated cutting the Rescue Energy for a 5th Psychic just to make it easier to get the second Chandelure powered up, but I talked myself out of it.

3 Double Colorless Energy: Almost every game I found myself having to attach 1 early game to something other than Bouffalant. Also the card was situationally useful if I found myself without Dodrio so I would be able to retreat using the DCE.

1 Rescue Energy: I touched upon this earlier, but I felt 4 Chandelures were plenty to get me through a single game. I played pretty conservatively with them as well so they weren’t getting KO’d on a regular basis.

How I Did…

Day 1:

pokemon-paradijs.comTyphlosion/Magnezone W
Lanturn/Eelektrik: L
Durant: L
???: W
???: W
Six Corners: W

Final Record: 4-2

Day 2:

Six Corners: W
Pidgeot Deck: W
Lost Gar: L
Durant: W
Durant: L
Yanmega/Vileplume: W
Chandelure: W

Final Record: 5-2

Day 3:

Durant: L
Chandelure: L
Reuniclus/Friends: W
Feraligatr/Lanturn: W
Zekrom/Tornadus/Eelektick: W
Durant: W

Final Record: 4-2

pokemon-paradijs.comMy final record with the deck was 13-6 and the biggest mistake I made was sticking with Chandelure for too long. Durant and Kyurem were both very hard match ups (30-70), but I felt like a huge favorite against most of the other decks at the tournament. Looking over the Top 8 of all 3 days, I normally had amazing matchups against over half of it. To be honest also really enjoyed playing the deck; it was consistent and offered me many different options, which are big things for me when I’m looking at a deck.

At all of these Cities there were a good number of Fire decks, so I kept expecting the number of Durants to die down. After all, Jason Klaczynski (a two-time World Champion) only made Top Cut 1 out of the 5 days of the marathon with the deck, and batted records just around .500 at the rest.

Looking over my 6 losses, I took 3 to Durant while only getting 2 wins off it. In all honesty, I’m actually pretty happy with that record against Durant. Being 2-3 against your worst matchup is pretty good in this format. As the marathon went on I felt like I kept getting better and better at playing this matchup.

I took another loss to Lanturn/Zekrom/Eels where he actually ended up winning the game with a tech Eelektross NVI that completely caught me off guard. He went up on Prizes very quickly, but once I got Vileplume and Twins going I mounted a come back, and the game came down to 1-2 Prizes in his favor.

I had played N a turn earlier so I believe he had a very small hand. I was counting his outs and I was pretty sure my Bouffalant was safe, and the next turn I was going to retreat back to Chandelure so I was feeling pretty good about this game.

But the Eelektross locked me so I was unable to retreat, and he won a few turns later. I’ve said this before, but in a format where we have so many “standard” lists little techs can win you games because people don’t expect them. Even if I knew he played the Eelektross I don’t really think it would have changed how I played things, I probably would have had to gamble he didn’t have it in such a small hand.

pokemon-paradijs.comI took another loss to LostGar and there really isn’t much more to say than that. I run 26 Pokémon and really can’t put early pressure on the opponent; in the end it was pretty easy win for him. I saw 1 LostGar deck in 5 tournaments it was simply horrid luck I got paired against it and so early in a very long tournament. I didn’t really factor this loss in, as I felt like it was a pretty safe bet I wasn’t going to play against another one.

My final loss came to a very close mirror game. We were 1-1 Prizes and time was called. I had 1 Chandelure in play and needed to draw a second one on my next turn. I used N to put us both at 1 card and then Beached for 6. He used his turn to set up a KO for his following turn. I knew I had to win this turn. I didn’t hit any of my outs off Tropical Beach and my draw for turn was no more help. I Cheren for 3 and whiff and offer the handshake, of course the next card in my deck was the game winning Pokémon Communication.

I wish I had a better record to brag about with the deck, but all in all the deck played amazing. I knew heading in I had some rough match ups and I hit them more often than I wanted to. In our current format every deck has at least one bad match up so all you can do is suck it up and move on.

I absolutely love how my list plays, but I will also say it far from the “standard,” as most other variants don’t run Bouffalant and instead opt to play a 4-4-4 Chandelure. In some match ups I feel Bouffalant is key, but in other matchups (like Durant and mirror) I would much rather have the full Chandelure line.


This deck wasn’t widely played but a Wisconsin player came down and earned himself a Top 8 and a 2nd place finish with this strategy. I don’t have his exact list, but here is my take on the deck.

Pokémon – 22

4 Litwick BW27
3 Lampent NVI
4 Chandelure NVI
3 Yanma TM
3 Yanmega Prime
2 Doduo UD
2 Dodrio UD
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 38

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Junk Arm
4 Switch
4 Rare Candy
4 N
3 Judge
3 Tropical Beach
3 Cheren
3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Super Rod
1 Max Potion

Energy – 0


pokemon-paradijs.comThe first thing you notice about the deck is that it plays absolutely no Energy. The idea is to use Chandelure’s Ability as well take advantage of Yanmega being able to attack for free to take Prizes. The deck pretty much takes the exact opposite strategy to Chandlure/Vileplume; instead of trying to “lock” your opponent out of Trainers it plays a whole host of them. This adds a lot of speed and versatility to the deck, and the 4 Switch allows you to really get a lot of use Chandelure’s Ability.


In my last article I talked about a different take on a Magnezone/Eels deck that I took to a City Championship that played a whooping 17 Energy in. The trade-off I made was giving up techs spots to Junk Arm and Pokémon Catcher. After the tournament I took the deck back to the drawing board. I felt finding room for Junk Arms and Pokémon Catcher could help me get cheaper Prizes that in turn could reduce the amount of Energy I had to Lost Burn over the course of the game.

On the other hand though I really didn’t want to play one of these builds that played 13 or 14 Energy. These builds put more emphasis on Zekrom and nearly ensure that he has to take 1 or 2 Prizes. In the end I believe I came up with a happy medium. Here is what my list for the tournament looked like…

Pokémon – 17

4 Magnemite TM
2 Magneton TM
3 Magnezone Prime
2 Tynamo NVI 38
1 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI
1 Zekrom BLW
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Sage’s Training
4 N
4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Communication
3 Junk Arm
2 Pokémon Catcher
2 Switch
1 Super Rod

Energy – 15

15 L

I never found myself really attacking with Zekrom very often and the 1 Super Rod makes a single copy of Zekrom play fine. In fact, in most of my games I didn’t even use Zekrom. I had to pay a lot of attention to my Energy and where it was (deck, discard, field, or Prizes), but many games I was able to just run the table with Magnezone Prime. In the end I took the deck to a 6-2, 3rd place finish on Saturday, my final day of the marathon.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe first of my 2 losses came in the final round of Swiss to Adam Vernola with mirror. He had a major turn where he got 2 Magnezone and 2 Eelektriks on the field in a single turn and I was unable to come back. My other loss came in Top 4 against Durant where I was unable to successfully implement the Wittenkeller strategy.

The “Witenkeller strategy” came about on Tuesday when Josh and Jason played in Top 4. Jason got off to a very quick start, but Josh hit 4 out of 5 Thundershocks with Tyanmo to Paralyze Jason’s Durant for consecutive turns. This gave Josh the opportunity to build up a Zekrom and Eelektrik on the bench and come back and win the game. We all kind of made fun of Josh for this, but in reality this is the best strategy in the match up. Buying yourself even just one turn can be key to winning this match up.

Durant in my opinion is the deck’s worst match up; you really need a strong opening hand to win this game and I simply didn’t. To complicate things more, both games he was able to hit key Junk Arms and Switches with his mills. Originally they had me paired against Zekrom/Tornadus/Eels and him paired against the same; a very bad matchup for him and pretty even matchup for me.

In hindsight, Magnezone/Eels is probably the deck I should have played for the entire marathon. I was originally turned off by the number of Fighting decks that were popping up due to how many different decks were running Eelektrik. However, the deck can “luck sack” or win its bad matchups better than any other deck in the format. I caught some lucky breaks in Swiss, but I won against both Durant and Donphan/Dragons, arguably the deck’s two worst match ups.

Mark A. HicksI wrote this first part as soon as I got back from the marathon. To tack on a bit more, I played this exact same list a week later and was able to bring home a 1st place finish. Between 6 rounds of Swiss and 3 rounds of Top Cut, I faced a whooping 8 Vileplume decks. Half were Chandelure while the other half were Ross style decks, I had never played in a meta before that was this heavily dominated by Vileplume. Neither of these deck are good match ups for me and I had some insanely close games, but a few smart plays and a little luck I managed the win.

In my final City of the season I took the deck to Burnsville, MN. Sadly I was only able to bring home a Top 8, but the deck was playing really smoothly.

In the end the deck brought me a 1st, 2nd, Top 4, and a Top 8 out of the 4 Cities I played it in. I’m not claiming the deck is BDIF, but I certainly believe it is one of the most well-rounded decks that we have in the format. It’s fast, consistent, has 1HKO ability, consistent draw, and a surprisingly skillful mirror. It fit my playstyle really well and I actually really enjoyed playing the deck.

Top Decks Of The Marathon


pokemon-paradijs.comTo be honest, I couldn’t believe how much play this deck saw, it just has so many auto-losses and tough matchups in the current format. That being said though, the strength of the builds and the skill level of the people playing them was simply amazing. The deck has risen from a joke deck to a top-level tournament deck and one to certainly be ready for.

If Durant is giving you a hard time the best piece of advice I can give you is practice the match up a lot. The more and more I played the match up, the more comfortable I felt and the better I did. The biggest challenge players face when testing against Durant is finding a good player and a good list to test against. I see such a huge skill gap in a lot of the people playing the deck.

If you test against an average build/Durant player you’re going to have a rude awakening when you come to a tournament and sit across from someone who knows the deck inside and out.

A Few Notes

– A majority of them played a slim Pokémon line (4 Durant, 1 Rotom) and they didn’t play a secondary attacker such as Cobalion.

– If you do play Cobalion don’t play more than 1 copy. I never really got these lists that played 2-3 Cobalion or 2 Rotom. You have Revive to get them back if they get Knocked Out, and as far as Rotom goes, it’s very situational to be able to effectively use the Power twice in one turn. Any advantage you get from having multiple copies is simply not worth the increased odds of starting with a basic other than Durant.

– About half of them played Black Belt/Rainbow Energy to combo with Rotom. It’s played to answer an opponent who only sets up 1 attacker. I never saw this combo used effectively though.

– About half played Dual Ball.

pokemon-paradijs.com– About half played Flower Shop Lady. Now coming from somebody who played a good amount of games with Trainer Lock vs. Durant, I can say that Flower Shop Lady caused varying levels of problems. Games that I went off very quickly in and managed to start taking out Durants before they got too many good mills off, it made little difference. After all my opponent has to have the Flower Shop Lady in their hand and then a Pokémon Collector to get the ants to their hand on the following turn.

However in very close games it was normally enough to push my opponent over the top. I would say it’s worth the spot if you expect Trainer lock, but be willing to take the disadvantage against non-Trainer lock decks.

I got the chance to watch Jason K. Top 8 and Top 4 match at the first City of the Marathon. Jason in general is very conservative player and that’s how he played Durant. The biggest thing I noticed is having 4 Durant in play was not as important to Jason as his board position.

When he made decisions on what to grab with his Twins he always looked for cards that secured a better board position for him like Pokémon Catcher, Crushing Hammer, and Lost Remover. These took priority over a Revive to get Durant back, that is not to say he never grabbed Revive off Twins rather is position on the board was more important.

The deck itself is one of the most and least skill based decks that we have in our current format. I watched games where a player had to make many tough decisions over the course of a game, mainly Pokémon Catcher targets, Junk Arm decisions, when to N, what to grab off Twins etc. While these decisions may seem minor Durant can’t put any real offense on the table or deal with large threats.

These decisions could buy a player another turn to mill, which could easily mean the difference between winning and losing the game. I watched other games however where I saw a player make bad decision after bad decision but still win the game simply due to going first and opening Collector.

I understand all of the hatred that the deck receives, after all it is a very frustrating deck to play against, but I certainly wouldn’t call the deck “cheap.” Essentially the deck puts you on approximately 8-10 turn clock. Where you have that many turns to take 6 Prizes. I would much rather have decks in the format that put a player on a “clock” rather than decks that consistently win on the first turn. Those of you who remember Kingdra LA’s domination of the 2008 Battle Roads and Cities can certainly appreciate that.


Different Typhlosion variants saw some play over the course of the week. Typhlosion/Magnezone was by far the most popular way to run the deck, I also saw a couple of straight Typhlosion/Reshiram and only 1 Typhlosion/Kingdra. I really covered the deck in-depth in my last article. But here is another version of the deck that saw play over the weekend and actually won 1 of the events as well.

Pokémon – 18

3 Magnemite TM
2 Magneton TM
3 Magnezone Prime
3 Cyndaquil HS
1 Quilava HS
3 Typhlosion Prime
2 Reshiram BLW
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Sage’s Training
4 N
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
4 Junk Arm
2 Pokémon Catcher
1 Switch
1 Super Rod

Energy – 14

10 R
4 L

pokemon-paradijs.comTad W was the one who ended up winning the event with this concept. I don’t have his exact list, but I did get the chance to play against him earlier in the week.

The deck plays a higher Energy count and puts a lot more emphasis on Magnezone Prime as the main attacker. I would kind of compare the deck to Magnezone/Eels from the standpoint that you use Reshiram (instead of Zekrom) to take 1 or 2 Prizes than you just sweep with Magnezone the rest of the game. Magenzone/Eels should be a lot faster since they only have to set up 1 Stage 2 and Stage 1 vs. 2 Stage 2s, but Typhlosion does bring some things to the table as well.

First off it nearly hands you the Durant match up as well as it makes it near impossible to “lock” anything in the Active Spot. Typhlosion Prime also offers type coverage and provides a very solid secondary attacker. There is also a lot of other nice little bonuses such as it’s easier to manipulate Outrage damage.


This was by far the most popular deck of the Marathon taking up about half or more of the Top Cut spots by the end of the week. The big reason that we saw such a huge increase in play of this deck is due to the fact that it has really no auto-losses. Personally I think it has kind of rough match up against Magnezone/Eels, but many of the deck’s top supporters disagree with me.

Either way, none of its match ups are worse than 40-60 and considering the format we have now, those are some pretty solid numbers.

Pokémon – 15

4 Tornadus EPO
3 Zekrom BLW
2 Tynamo NVI 38
1 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI
1 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 32

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Sage’s Training
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 PlusPower
4 Junk Arm
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Professor Juniper
3 Eviolite
1 Pokégear 3.0
1 Switch
1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

9 L
4 Double Colorless

This is my take on the deck, over the course of the week I saw a lot of variation in lists. The amount of personal preference that this deck can accommodate is something else I found very appealing with the deck.

A Few Notes:

pokemon-paradijs.com– Half the players preferred Full Art Zekrom picture while the other half preferred the Promo Zekrom picture. Very few players opted to play the regular B/W version.

– Some versions went 4-3 Eelektrik.

– Cleffa seemed to be in most of them, while Tyrogue was in about half.

– There was variation in the number of Catcher and PlusPowers people played.

PONT isn’t standard while Sage’s and Professor Juniper seemed to be.

– Pokégear was not standard; the version that played it seemed to only play 1-3. Unlike ZPST, the deck doesn’t “go off” swinging for 120 on turn 1; rather the deck plays more like a set up deck. Since the deck has a much stronger mid and late game than ZPST, it’s harder to “lock.” Both of these are reasons that the deck doesn’t need a full 4 Pokégear like ZPST.

Super Rod: Once again about half the versions played it. It’s nice if you have an opponent going after your Eels, also very useful in the Durant match up.

– The Energy counts also varied; 4 DCE was standard, but the number of Lightning varied from 8-12.

Something else really interesting I saw was in matchups where an opponent could snipe or spread they didn’t even drop Eelektrik. Eelektrik is always a prime target for Pokémon Catcher and you simply can’t afford to drop it in match ups like Durant or Kyurem/Electrode Prime variants. In these situations they seemed to stick with a field of just Tornadus and then dropped a Zekrom in the mid to late game to clean up.

Come States with some tweaks and perhaps the additions of some of the new EXs this deck has a lot of potential to keep its Tier 1 status.


pokemon-paradijs.comOriginally this deck was Kyurem/Cobalion/Electrode, but the deck has come along way since than. Of course straight Kyurem/Cobalion/Electrode still sees play, but it’s far from the only version of the deck. The main idea is to “blow up” Electrode Prime to power up your big Basics. The deck reminds me a lot of Six Corners, but with Electrode Prime for Energy acceleration. So a few quick notes of the different variations I saw.

– Kyurem was the main focus of all the variations.

– Landorus was in probably ¾ of these.

– Pooka made it pretty widely know that he played Landorus to help the Durant match up.

– Terrakion saw play in most of the variations.

– My personal favorite split of the two is 2 Landorus and 1 Terrakion.

– About half played Super Rod.

– A lot of people were teching in a single Cobalion for mirror.

Looking Toward The Future

I’m going to be straight up and honest with all of you: As I’m sitting here writing this I still have another 2 City Championships to go to, so all the time I’m spending testing is devoted toward them. Just like everybody else, I’ve looked over the (predicted) spoilers for the new set and see a ton of potential.

Basically the decks and lists I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about are more some of my initial reactions and ideas to see the sets rather than hard proven and tested lists. They are not polished, but they are what I’m going to start my testing with.

Mewtwo EX/???/Celebi Prime

Pokémon – 11

4 Mewtwo-EX NXD
4 Celebi Prime
3 Regigigas-EX

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 N/Copycat
4 Dual Ball
4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Eviolite
2 Switch
3 PlusPower
3 Skyarrow Bridge
1 Pokégear 3.0

Energy – 15

11 G
4 Double Colorless

This deck is so easy to mess around and tech with; it’s basically just Celebi Prime for Energy acceleration, Mewtwo EX, and then any Pokémon that can take advantage of Grass/Colorless/Double Colorless Energy. Josh played Tornadus, I went with Regigigas-EX, and there really are a ton of different options; I would expect to see some variations on this idea.


This is the most popular version I’ve seen and the last few Cities I’ve been to I’ve already seen a handful players proxying the deck out and already testing it. I haven’t tested this deck at all so I’m not ready to hail it as the best way to play Mewtwo EX, but the hype alone will ensure that it will see solid numbers at States.

Hopefully everybody got their playset of Celebi Prime early as TnT had them for $1.99 a few months ago and current they are out of stock and sitting at $6.99. Ebay has them going for rough the same amount after seeing a similar price jump.

I really have to agree with Josh; Mewtwo EX is amazing, but the $65 price tag isn’t representative of the card. Hype alone is selling the card right now since many players know they will need it for States and are willing to pay the price tag for the peace of mind knowing they will have them. In the end it will probably settle somewhere between $20-$40.

What is scaring me the most right now is that I might actually have to get my hands on the card at this amount knowing the price will drop. I’m really hoping once prereleases begin and the set is mass released a few weeks afterward it will wind up with a pretty decent pull ratio and the price will drop. But if this hype carries into States, many players will be force to make the decision “Do I buy Mewtwo EX at this high price or can I get by without it?”

The number 1 thing Josh said and I want to reiterate is if you plan on buying Mewtwo EX make sure you have your deck and list all ready. It would really be a shame and a costly mistake to buy 4 Mewtwo EX at this price and then realize that the deck you want to play for States only needs 2 copies.

The website BebesSearch.com has a feature where you can print off high quality Mewtwo EX proxies for free. I actually use them for making all my proxies has writing on Energy with a Sharpie got old after a while. The proxies are really high quality and look fantastic, so I really suggest you check them out.

More Eelektrik

Pokémon – 16

3 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Zekrom-EX
1 Raikou-EX
4 Thundurus EPO (I took this idea from Josh, definitely something to test.)
3 Tynamo NVI 38
1 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI

Trainers – 31

4 Sage’s Training
4 Professor Juniper
2 Professor Oak’s New Theory/Copycat/N
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Eviolite
3 PlusPower
1 Pokégear 3.0
2 Switch
1 Pokémon Communication

Energy – 13

9 L
4 Double Colorless

There seems to be a very mistaken belief going around that since we have EXs in the format, all of the deck we have been playing with during Cities aren’t going to be able to compete anymore. While this new set looks like it has a ton of potential to be the most revolutionary set we’ve had in a while, no set is ever going to completely displace a meta. There simply are not enough cards in a set to do so, rather I expect to see many existing decks and strategies looking to incorporate the new Ex’s.

The first list is very similar to ZPST expect we use Celebi Prime/Skyward Bridge in place of Pachy and Shaymin. In the late game though it plays like Zekrom/Tornadus/Eelektrik from the standpoint it still has Energy acceleration in the mid and late game. Celebi’s Energy acceleration is not a one-time trick like Pachy/Shaymin, and in many ways you could say the deck has the best qualities of both builds.

Putting a lot of early pressure on the opponent to stop them from setting up really isn’t a new concept, but it has proven to be very effective in the past. You don’t always have to re-event the wheel; rather look for ways to update/improve on it.

Playtesting for major tournaments like States has always been crucial, especially with such a revolutionary new set on the horizon. The more you playtest as well the more comfortable you will feel playing the Mewtwo EX chess match that I’m sure will occur frequently.


Pokémon – 22

4 Piplup DEX
2 Prinplup DEX
4 Empoleon DEX
4 Horsea UL
2 Seadra UL
4 Kingdra Prime
1 Cleffa HS
1 Pichu HS

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Junk Arm
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 N
3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Super Rod
1 Switch

Energy – 10

10 W

Ability: Once during your turn, you may discard 1 card from your hand. Then, draw 2 cards. W: Does 10 damage times the number of Pokémon in play (both yours and your opponent’s).

I’m not quite sure what to think about the new Empoleon. When the new set comes out everybody is going to be so focused on the new EXs that Empoleon might just fall through the cracks. The card has a lot going for it though with a high damage attack for a single W and its Ability gives the deck some built-in draw power.

One big weakness of this deck is that even though it can do up to 120 damage for a single Energy, the honest truth is 120 damage really isn’t that big of a deal anymore. With so many high HP Pokémon, especially now with the addition of all the new EXs, 120 just won’t cut it anymore.

To help with this problem I’m also playing a very thick 4-2-4 Kingdra Prime. Kingdra not only spreads damage and help reach that key 1HKO range, but it also gives the deck 8 good starters that can lead to putting a lot of early pressure on the opponent for a single Energy.

However, Kingdra does not help cover Empoleon’s weakness to Lightning. We won’t be able to see exactly how bad this is until this new meta starts to unfold though. Another combo I really wanted to fit into the deck, but didn’t was Research Record. By playing Research Record before you use Empoleon’s Ability you have a lot more control of what you’re going to end up drawing.

I’m going to need to really test this deck before I decide if it’s a very viable combo or just a gimmick. I always try to be honest when talking about decks. Right now I feel this is deck that I want to be good far more than a deck that will be good. Like I said, it has a lot going for it and will probably find its way comfortably into a Tier 2 spot.


en.wikipedia.orgHonest self-reflection is something I always stress to players who truly want to improve their game. To look in the mirror and be honest with yourself about your shortcomings is a lot easier said than done. People in general don’t like to face their flaws and often times would much rather believe the lie than face the truth. Things such as “all my good cards were prized,” “I drew bad,” or my personal favorite, “my opponent got lucky,” are all very common excuses I see players use. While at times these reasons may be true but often times there are other reasons that lead/contribute to a poor performance.

All of this being said though, there are two types of reflection that I find helpful. The first is like I said self-reflection, and the second is second-hand reflection. Having a friend or a top player watch your games and give feedback afterward is really helpful and can provide you another point of view.

Some of the best testing I ever do is at Worlds each year, having players like Con Le, Alex Frezza, Gino Lombardi, Jason Klazczynski, etc. just sitting there watching you play and then giving their input always gives me a lot to think about. Keep in mind this doesn’t have to be “set up” – often times we are just playtesting and talking.

We are most certainly in an era of technology so don’t be afraid to use it. It sounds really stupid, but don’t be afraid to record some of your games and watch them later, or have somebody else review them later and give you feedback.

So in self-reflection, here is my analysis of my Cities performance:

City 1: Typhlosion/Magnezone (2nd +5)
City 2: Magnezone/Eels (2nd +5)
City 3: Chandelure 4-2 Whiff
City 4: Chandelure 5-2 Whiff (+3)
City 5: Kyurem/Terrakion/Cobalion/Electrode 3-3
City 6: Chandelure 4-2 Whiff
City 7: Magnezone/Eels (Top 4 +4)
City 8: Magnezone/Eels (1st +6)
City 9: Magnezone/Eels (Top 8 +3)

pokemon-paradijs.comIn hindsight I should have just played Magnezone/Eels for all 9 Cities; I absolutely love the deck and it really seems to fit my playstyle. My list wasn’t stellar at the start of Cities, but it got much better as they went on. This isn’t exactly a surprise and happens every year; the more Cities you play in the better you get at playing in the format, the more information comes out, and the better your deck becomes.

City 1: I played Typhlosion/Magnezone and going in I can’t really regret playing the deck; I expected a lot of Zekrom, I felt good about that matchup, and my list was solid. Magnezone/Eels turned out to be the big deck and I certainly struggled with the matchup. Perhaps if I had tested the matchup more I would have played something else or realized how much of a swing card Rocky Helmet was.

City 2: I used my version of Magnezone/Eels, and the deck itself played pretty smoothly and was very consistent. As Cities went on however, I changed my list to incorporate a higher Energy count than standard, while also cutting techs like Catcher and Junk Arm. I never liked early versions of the deck that played 13 Energy, but perhaps if I had tested those versions more I would have more quickly come to my current version.

City 3, 4, 6: I can’t really argue with playing Chandelure at the first one or even the second, but as the deck just wasn’t getting me into Top Cut I should have abandoned it for the 3rd one, regardless of how much I liked playing the deck. Perhaps also I should have played a more standard version, but I felt (and still feel) my version had stronger matchups against the decks that were consistently top cutting.

The deck is extremely complex at times and I occasionally found myself making little misplays; some I realized immediately and others I realized at the end of the game. Misplays might not even be the right word, rather I just wouldn’t think of something minor until after I had already done it, such as forgetting to count an out the opponent had. Most of them were really minor though, and would have unlikely changed any outcomes.

pokemon-paradijs.comI had 2 major misplays that I recall ironically both came in mirror. The first was against Alex Solomonson from Minnesota; I Knocked Out one of his Pokémon with Chandelure’s Ability, forgetting it would tie us in Prizes making it so I would be unable to Twins that turn. I had to adjust my strategy accordingly and managed to still win that game.

The second was against Mathew Kish where I devised a plan on how I was going to KO his Chandelure with mine’s Ability and a Bouffalant. I somehow got it in my head that my Pokémon last turn was Knocked Out by damage when in fact it was KO’d by Burn. Honestly I was in a tough situation and I didn’t have a ton of great follow up plays, though the 20 damage from Bouffalant did put him in Jirachi range.

But I did waste a Twins, bench spots, Energy attachment, etc. While all of these things are true, they are also all just excuses to make me feel better about making a major misplay. In the end I lost a very close game I talked about earlier that I deserved to lose.

Three Things I Learned

1. You will misplay. It happens, everybody does it, and it’s all about being able to recognize these misplays when they happen and adjust your strategy accordingly.

2. Don’t get so focused on the forest you forget about the trees. Often times players can get tunnel vision and focus too much on the end result while over looking a minor detail.

3. Lastly, learn from your mistakes. You want to guess how many times since that one mistake I’ve messed up with Bouffalant again or forgot to check prizes/hand before taking a KO with Chandelure? Zero.

City 5: I broke my own rule here and my results showed it. I played a deck I didn’t know and hadn’t tested with enough. Throughout the day I was constantly in situations where I had options, but honestly didn’t know what to do (a problem I rarely have). The deck simply did not fit my playstyle, it relied to heavily on getting turn 2 Electrode and had a very hard time coming back in games it was down.

Why did I play the deck you might ask? Honestly it was because Kyle (Pooka) was tearing up down in Florida with it and finished 6-1 in Swiss the day before. Watching him the deck looked very easy to play and I felt I could easily pick it up.

Take-Away Points

Mark A. Hicks1. Don’t play a deck you don’t know and a list you don’t feel comfortable with.

2. Don’t get cocky. Going in I honestly felt my playing ability would make up for my lack of experience with the deck. I’ve gotten by in the past with this and it finally caught up to me this time.

City 7, 8: These are two Cities I’m very proud of. I played a deck I knew inside and out, along with a list that I heavily tested, and I feel like my results show it. I only wish I had the list/experience I had now going into my 1st City.

City 9: I played in an area where I knew Vileplume would be almost non-existent. I should have dropped the 2nd Magneton for the 4th Junk Arm. Honestly I desperately want the 4th Junk Arm in the deck and should have played all 4 Cities with it. In unknown areas dropping the Magneton would have been stupid, so I’m not sure what I would have cut, but finding room for the 4th Junk Arm would have been worth it.

In the end I gained 6, 5, 5, 4, and 3 Points for a total of 23 Championship Points out of a possible 30. I’m not exactly happy, but I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed with my performance either. Being happy with never being satisfied and always looking to do better is key for growing as a player. Either way, 23 Championship Points keeps me in the running and I’m really looking forward to EXs and State Championships. Remembering your past while looking toward your future will help you in many aspects of life.


In closing, States is right around the corner and I know we’ll probably be waving back and forth on deck and tech choices right up until the night before the events. If anyone wants to run anything past me, get my input, or ask me well any question in general, please feel free to contact me at jay@sixprizes.com. After all, the goal of SixPrizes is to help you become a better player and talking with other players is one of the best ways to do this.

After each article I usually get a handful of emails asking me questions or advice, and I correspond regularly with Josh, Fulop, Mikey, and many other members, so don’t hesitate to ask. If you think you’re on to the next big secret deck and want some input just tell us please don’t share this and of course we’ll respect your wishes.

Until next time, test and prepare well, and of course good luck at States!


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