Hello everyone. Adam was gracious enough to let me fill in with an article in the UG the week before the EEC. Actually, it came out the Saturday of the ECC. Talk about a rough placement for an article. Anyway, I noticed the FP was a little dead the last few days, so I figured now is a good a time as any to get some ECC analysis and States prep out there.
pokemon-paradijs.comIf you got to read that UG article, you know where I put the decks prior to the ECC. For those of you who did not get to read it, here is the list:
- The Thunderdome
Honorable mention: CMT
Well, I was fairly close. I hit on four of the five most successful decks in the top 6. CMT won. Zekrom/Eels was the most successful overall. Thunderdome had five spots in the top 32. Durant had 3 spots in the top 32. The only deck I listed not to make the top 32 was ZPST. Also, the only other deck with multiple entries in the top 32 was ChandyPlume.
After seeing these results and having time to process them, it has become very clear where I did go astray.
Ultimately, my testing results were skewed by perceptions. This is a valuable lesson that I had learned last summer. However, I fell victim to this bias again. Last year, everyone was screaming that MagneBoar was the BDIF. However, Canadian nationals happened and everyone finally woke up.
How did that happen? Well, a few elite players were calling MagneBoar the BDIF and almost everyone else bought in. However, I was fortunate to have done my own independent testing and it served me well by being out in front of the developing meta.
Well, this time around, I listened too much to the established conversation. Everyone was using solid theorymon to clearly demonstrate why the Thunderdome and Durant were going to be the foundation of the meta.
That is where I started my testing. My basic assumptions were that the 1) Thunderdome was the best deck in the Cities season; 2) Magnezone is one of the few non-attackers that can hang with the EXs (thus Magnezone gets relatively better); 3) Durant is very good against a lot of things; and 4) Mewtwo EX was going to be the top (more most played) archetype, specifically CMT.
Based on those assumptions, I started my testing with the notion that these were the decks to beat. I should have started my testing with a clean slate.
Because of my assumptions, I placed TyRam too high and Zekrom/Eels and CMT too low. I want to look at why this happened:
TyRam Too High
Well, if the meta was going to be Thunderdome and Durant and CMT, TyRam was in a perfect position to thrive (or at least surprise people). Against the Thunderdome, the addition of Reshiram-EX and even Mewtwo EX allows TyRam to stream Basic attackers whereas the opponent would be trying to stream Magnezones. TyRam is faster than the Thunderdome. TyRam is also relatively immune to N, which is how the Thunderdome gets back into the game against faster decks.
Obviously, TyRam also rocks Durant. You have just too many good, relatively cheap Fire attackers that can stream 1HKOs on the ants.
TyRam also hangs fairly well against CMT. First, you can use your own Mewtwo EX + DCE to relieve early game pressure against your opponent. Then once you get a couple Typhlosions into play (normally only need two), Reshiram deals with Tornadus and Mewtwo EX fairly well. It can 1HKO most Tornadus and the energy discard greatly reduces Mewtwo’s effectiveness.
So, all of this led me to place TyRam too high.
CMT Too Low
Because I tested out TyRam extensively first, I placed CMT too low. CMT does actually struggle a bit with Durant. Or at least a standard CMT struggles with Durant. So, that immediately pushed it down in my list a little bit.
Then, CMT also is not excellent against TyRam. Those were two decks I pegged high that CMT struggled with. Furthermore, the CMT v. Thunderdome matchup is similar to the old ZPST v. TyRam match up. If CMT can run the Thunderdome off the board early, it can steal the game. However, once the Magnezones start flowing, it takes the game straight at CMT. CMT can be devastated by an N to one or two cards, and it lacks a huge attacker that can swing easily for 140+.
Zekrom/Eels Too Low
pokemon-paradijs.comThis was the game changer that turned the whole premise of my testing around. I knew it was good (I placed it fourth), I just didn’t think it was good enough to roll with the Thunderdome. However, a better focus on Zekrom-EX and Terrakion NVI really helps Zek/Eels out against its harder-hitting brethren.
However, there is really no other way around it, I simply made a mistake and vastly underrated this deck.
This deck, keeps the Thunderdome and Durant in check. It is also faster than TyRam and can swing toe-to-toe with the Fire Dragon.
Now, since Zek/Eels kind of picks on those three decks, the door was reopened for CMT to make a come back. CMT plays at least a respectable game (depending on the lists and the techs) against Zek/Eels.
Riddle Me This…
What has black and yellow stripes and feasts on ants?
The obvious answer is Zebstrika NDE. Let’s talk about this funny tech that many people talked about, but not many took seriously until after the ECC.
Zebstrika is a 90 HP Stage 1 with a zero Retreat Cost. Its first attack locks your opponent from using Trainers for one turn and does 40 damage for LC. Its second attack does 80 damage anywhere for LCC and discarding all the energy attacked to Zebstrika.
What makes this good against Durant? Item lock. Durant needs lots of Items to operate at maximum efficiency. The idea here is simple, you want a turn two Zebstrika and just start swinging for 40 and locking Items. This allows you to 2HKO Durants and keeps the Durants from coming back from the discard pile. Eventually, about five turns into the game, Durant just runs out of steam and the Devours start to die off.
Furthermore, Zebstrika is not a one-trick pony. It also works as a “soft wall” against many decks. If you hit the turn two Item lock, you are effectively slowing down set up decks and even CMT to a certain extent.
pokegym.netAgainst Stage Two decks, an Item lock blocks out their turn two (or three) Rare Candies, Communications, Junk Arms, and other assorted goodies. This effectively buys you another turn of picking on lowly Basics and Stage 1s. Furthermore, 40 damage coupled with a PlusPower or two can take easy prizes on many of the Basics in the format.
Against CMT, Dual Ball is locked. The winning list (to be provided later) includes a whopping zero Collector. Instead, the player focused on the speed of Dual Ball. Well, Zebstrika can hit for 40 and prevent your opponent from fishing out more attackers. Then you can use Zekrom, Zekrom-EX, etc. to set up a KO on important things for turn three/four.
Finally, Zebstrika is a free retreater allowing some shenanigans in using Dynamotor later in the game.
If Durant is highly prevalent, Super Rod is the clearly superior recovery card. However, if Durant drops, Revive gains strength in a big way. With most techs (an Reshiram-EX, Zekrom-EX, Mewtwo EX, Terrakion) being Basics, Revive can be an excellent play. It is also the poor man’s way around not having two Mewtwo EX to attack with.
For example, the best way to counter Mewtwo EX is with two Mewtwo EX. If your opponent has two out, you need to be able to get two out. That way you can take his first one, her will take yours with his second one, and then you take his second one with your second one. Well, instead of benching two at the same time, you can bench one. Then next turn use Revive to pull that same one back.
Obviously, having two of the tech in the deck is more consistent and less disruptable, but using Revive is a solid alternative.
A New Top 5 List
The Truth: Even though Chandy placed two decks in the Top 32 and there was only one version of the Truth, I feel this is the best lock deck at the moment. I feel that this deck needs to be centered around Kyurem EX and Regigigas-EX. I’m not going to dive into a full list, but consider the following:
– Kyurem is the main attacker and Gigas is the big swinger. So, I would run three Kyurem and two Gigas.
– Pokémon Center is actually a solid play here. It does mean that you have less room for Tropical Beach, but that is really ok. I’m not entirely sure why we felt the need to run three or four. Ross only ran one at Worlds. By choosing the Center, you save space in the deck by not needing Blissey Prime or large amounts of Seeker.
– Pokégear 3.0: I know this sounds like an interesting inclusion, I get that. Also, I am not completely sold on it. However, I am having more success with it than without it. I run four of these at the moment. The idea is that the format has sped up dramatically. So, the only real change lock decks have is to hit the turn two Vileplume.
Running 4 Gear, 4 Collector, and 4 Twins greatly increases the consistency of the set up. It helps to assure the turn one Collector. It also helps to achieve the turn two (or whatever turn after your opponents decides to take a prize) Twins into the Vileplume. Then you have a little bit of time to get rolling. Granted this becomes dead later in the game, but the tradeoff has been worth it so far.
Electrode Variants: These were all the rage for a while during Cities, but they were starting to see a decline by the end. Right now, I believe it is just barely hanging on. Personally, I feel the best combination is Reshiram-EX, Fliptini, Cobalion NVI, Electrode, and Eviolite. Of course you might toss in a Mewtwo EX or two just for some easy trades.
A turn two Reshi EX, with Fliptini and Eviolite is a scary proposition to be staring down. Even the famed Mewtwo EX is going to struggle with 150 damage turn after turn, starting on turn two. Cobalion offers a solid counter to Kyurem EX, the deck’s weakness. It also is an all-around solid attacker in its own right. You could toss in a Terrakion to deal with the Lightning decks, but then you start to mess with the consistency.
Ultimately, this deck has one good match up against the rest of the top five. It has two roughly 50/50 matchups and one bad match up. Now, this deck is just barely hanging onto its top five position, but I just don’t see another deck that is worthy of this spot, yet.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe deck did manage to squeeze into the top 32, but it did not make it any further. Also, the reports I heard are that there were not many TyRam at the ECC (but that may be false).
The deck is decidedly good against Durant; it is still the easiest deck to set up a stream of 1HKOs against the little bugger. The deck is solid against The Thunderdome and CMT as mentioned earlier in the article. However, Zek/Eels just takes away almost every advantage that TyRam possesses.
It is faster. It hits for almost the exact same levels of damage (120, 150, X-Ball), and it streams attackers very well. Finally, it has more tech space because of the Stage 1 versus Stage 2 support Pokémon.
TyRam has only three advantages, but none of them are big enough to elevate the deck to Zek/Eels status.
1) The Energy acceleration is more flexible. The ability to attach to the active is very nice. It allows you to avoid the silly retreat + Switch antics that Zek/Eels needs to pull off sometimes.
2) Typhlosion is much more difficult to KO than Eelektrik. This is still relevant. Basically, an attacking Typhlsion forces a response by an Pokémon-EX because not many other Pokémon can 1HKO Typhlosion. This allows you to attack their EX and hopefully take 2 Prizes.
3) Typhlosion’s attack is undoubtedly good. Just not good enough to push the deck higher.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
This little deck might slide all the way off my list by the time the first actual State tournament rolls around. The problem is that many decks are figuring ways around this card. The Fire decks do not greatly struggle with it. Zekrom decks are fine. You can use Zebstrika. You can use Regigigas-EX. You can use Benchtini, etc.
However, it still closes the skill gap between players. You can essentially “luck” through bad matchups on the randomness of the mill. However, I am convinced (after listening to people like Pooka on TTC) that to do well with Durant, you need to be playing at a very high level.
Here are a couple of tips:
pokemon-paradijs.com1. People playing Durant often focus on the simple strategy of having four Durant out and Devouring for four. However, the game state is often the more important concept to be keeping track of. Say you have the option of using Twins to get a Revive and a Twins or getting a Twins and a Lost Remover, and your opponent has a Pokémon with a Special Energy attached. Well, many people make the mistake of taking the Revive and devouring for four.
However, that opposing Pokémon will simply 1-shot your next Durant. So, you should take the Lost Remover to prevent that. Then on the next turn you might be able to take Crushing Hammer and Revive to get back up to four Durant and to completely clear the field of Energy.
2. Use Mischievous Trick even when you have 4 Durant. The first time you look at your deck, you should literally take note of every card in there (use a notepad if you must). That way you know what is in your deck and what is in your prizes, but you do not know what card is where in your prizes. Well, use Mischievous Trick to trade a card out, and use something to look through your deck again.
This time note the change. There should be one more of something and one less of a different card. Well, that tells you exactly what card a certain prize is. You can keep doing this until you figure them all out. This is valuable because you could essentially control your top decks. Say you know that you just put a PONT into your prizes and you have a dead hand. Well, you can then put that PONT on the top of your deck and have a live hand next turn.
These little things add up when you are playing Durant. If you find yourself just a couple cards away from the win every game, look back and ask if you did all of the little things correctly.
Pokémon – 5
Trainers – 45
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 10
#3 The Thunderdome (Magnezone/Eelektrik)
pokemon-paradijs.comThe big hitter. I think this deck is still viable. However, I think that it needs to change up its lines a bit. I do not have a polished list all sorted out for this yet. So, no list for you here. But I will tell you the following:
– Twins might be worth looking back into. You really need more help in coming back from being down Prizes. I might end up moving away from this idea, but it is certainly worth a shot in your testing.
– You need maximum consistency to pull this off.
– I think that Zekrom-EX is not needed in this deck. Mewtwo EX and Zekrom are the best alternative attackers here. You might still tech in a Terrakion, maybe.
I’m sorry I do not have enough information for you on this deck right now. I am just too much in the middle of testing to be confident in a list. I will say that I have had varying amount of success. There is potential here.
Let me come right out and say it, I’m still not convinced with this deck. Yet, I take great pride in being objective and most of my analysis in the last year has been based purely off results from actual tournaments. So, here this deck is, sitting at number two. Let’s start off with the winning ECC list.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 36
Energy – 13
The first thing to notice about this list is the consistency. When you have an unknown meta, especially at a big event, consistency normally wins out. The 4/4/4/3 draw lines are huge. That is a whopping 15 slots devoted to making the deck run. Even in today’s high draw count decks, 15 is a big number. This allowed the deck to run without a consistency crutch, like Smeargle UD or Cleffa.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe second thing to notice is the lack of a pure Lightning-counter Pokémon. Many people have looked into teching Terrakion into the deck. I still think that is a fine idea, but it is obviously not necessary. The deck can just out-speed other decks to “steal” wins.
The third important piece of information is the lack of Pokémon Collector. Dual Ball makes the deck inherently faster. You can search of Pokémon and play a secondary Supporter to get a better hand. With Junk Arm in the deck, Dual Ball can be plenty sufficient to make things work.
Obviously, the key to this deck is the early game threats. It can conceivably pull off 80 on turn one more reliably than ZPST could pull off the turn one attack. This allows the deck to start picking on support Pokémon immediately. Then you just pile energy onto Mewtwo EX to hit harder. The only complicated part of the deck (in this list) is managing the Mewtwo EX exchange.
Personally, I still prefer some type of recovery in the deck, but that list apparently works.
There are two cards that can easily be teched into this deck, that I think are still worth considering.
First, Shaymin EX is a possible late-game big hitter. To be completely honest, I am still struggling with this deck (the above decklist) when the games get into the late stages. It just lacks a huge hitter than can reliably take out Reshiram, Zekrom, Reshiram-EX, Zekrom-EX, Magnezone, Typhlosion, etc. Shaymin allows you to do that after you opponent has taken four or 5 Prizes. It does not mess up the energy consistency and it is actually not that bad of an opener.
Yes, it will likely net your opponent 2 Prizes. However, you can start getting the energy flowing with Shaymin. You may also be able to steal a prize or two with PlusPower even without you opponent taking any prizes.
Second, Terrakion is still a valid option. The main problem with Terrakion is that is opens you up to stalling out early game. A CCCC Retreat Cost is a big pain in the rear. It makes you either burn a ton of Energy or a Switch to get out of a bad spot. It also forces you to utilize a less-efficient Energy line. This can also cause you to stall out with Celebi.
pokegym.netUsing the name Zekrom/Eels might be a little bit of a red herring here. I am actually going to cheat and talk about several iterations of Eelektrik-based decks.
We will jump right in with the second place deck from the ECC. We only have the Pokémon lines, but the Items cannot be that complicated.
Wow. That is a crazy list that not many people saw coming. Let’s try to disect it a bit.
The Absol Prime is a clever tech that can serve a couple functions. First, if can soften up several Pokémon. It pushed Tynamos and then Eelektriks down into 1HKO range for Thundurus. It makes Mewtwo EX a simple Strong Volt + one PlusPower away from a 1HKO. It can also abuse Prism Energy (being a basic) so, you can 1HKO Chandelure.
The Shaymin allowed the deck to preserve energy drops. This is fairly obvious.
Thundurus just won’t die. Most people assumed that Zekrom became the clear favorite to be a non-EX attacker. However, the ability to get the energy flowing in an Eelektrik deck is still just too good to completely ignore.
Terrakion is a clear tech to get revenge 1HKOs on Zekrom-EX or Magnezone or Zekrom. This is compatible with Prism energy and just makes the mirror much easier to handle.
The Mewtwo EX count is really high. To be honest, I do not agree with three Mewtwo EX in here. It was supposed to give the edge in the CMT game, but it just seems like overkill.
pokegym.netLet’s now look at what some potential Zekbstrika Pokémon lines might look like.
The idea here is to use Zebstrika as you opener. You are trying to establish the “soft lock” mentioned earlier. Then you have two Mewtwo EX to counter CMT. You have Zekrom-EX to take on Magnezones. You have Zekrom to attack basically anything else. Finally, Terrakion is there for the mirror.
In this configuration of the deck, you will want to run a maximum amount of DCE. You also need a higher count of the free retreat Tynamo to get Tornadus going quickly. The key to this style of the deck is to utilize Tornadus as the early-game attacker, Zekrom as the mid game attacker, and Zekrom-EX/Mewtwo EX as needed.
The Thundurus is to get the energy moving along. Zapdos is a fighting counter. It resists Fighting and will 2HKO most of the Fighting attackers (with average luck). It can also be used to snipe. So when you attack with Bolt Strike or Strong Volt and your opponent does not heal that Pokémon you will be able to take a prize with Random Spark.
The only general tip I want to leave you with is this: do not be afraid to discard your DCEs with Strong Volt.
Well, I actually intended to put out a short summary article of the ECC. I ended up with this. Hopefully, time allowing, I will be back as I get more testing in and States are closer.