Schooling the Competition – States Edition

For months, the focus of pretty much every article, both free content and Underground, and forum conversation has been about Next Destinies cards, decks, and the NDE format. The inclusion of some of the most power-creeped cards ever printed and the long-awaited return of the EX mechanic helped make NDE one of the most anticipated sets ever.

Now, let’s fast forward to present day. Week 1 of State Championships, the first US tournament in which Next Destinies cards have been legal, has come and gone and now everyone’s gearing up for Week 2.

But, in order to have a shot at doing well Week 2, it’s important that you take into account the results from Week 1 and reformulate your strategy accordingly. If you don’t change anything at all, even if the meta doesn’t significantly change from one week to the next, you’re still putting yourself at a disadvantage. The players who learn from their mistakes the first week and effectively reformulate their game plan will have a tremendous edge over those who do not.

In the past month or so, the focus of the Underground staff has been to get you guys ready for Week 1 of States and I think all the writers did a phenomenal job. So, I’ve dedicated this article to giving you guys the information you need to get out there, do well at the second wave of States, and bring yourself one step closer to that Worlds invite.

There topics I’ll be covering include:

Week 1 States Results – Did Zeels or CMT fall of the grid? Do we have a new BDIF? Did Cubone Tank claim every top 8 slot at all of the events last Weekend?

pokemon-paradijs.com

Tetrakion – The biggest shocker to come out of States. I’ll give a breakdown of the deck, what makes it so strong, possible tech options and a competitive build for Week 2.

Week 2 Meta Predictions – With Week 1 results in hand, I’ll give you guys my predictions of what’s going to change and what will stay the same heading into the second week of States.

Mirror Matches – CMT and Zeels – These are some of the strongest and most popular decks in the format. I’m sure everyone has at least considered playing either of these decks at States, so I’ve included an in-depth analysis on winning their respective mirror matches.

The Lists You Need to See – Like usual, I’ve been hard at work over the past few weeks refining my lists for States, among which is my build for ExBoar, a super-strong semi-rogue deck, ZPSM and a Zeels list with a twist. As usual, each of these lists come with my 100 game guarantee, that is, every list you find in an article of mine has been rigorously tested in no less than 100 games.

Well, first things first, let’s take a look at…

States Results – Week 1

For reference, here are the statistics for Week 1. Most of the following results are from tournaments in the US, but there a couple of international championships factored in as well.

First Place

pokemon-paradijs.com8 Zekrom/Eelektrik
6 CMT
2 Durant
1 Straight Terrakion
1 TyRam

Since only knowing what won doesn’t give you the whole picture of the meta game, I’ve also included the Top 8 results

Top 8

41 Zekrom/Eelektrik
23 Celebi/Mewtwo/(Tornadus)
11 Durant
5 TyRam
4 Terrakion (1 w/ Landorus, 1 w/ Mewtwo EX & Tornadus)
2 EelZone
2 The Truth
1 Electrode/Terrakion/Mewtwo/Reshiram
1 Chandelure NDE

Sorry, Cubone.

Well, its pretty clear that the BDIF is Zeels. Not only did it have the highest number of top 8 appearances by a significant margin, but it is also the deck that scored the most wins as well, which isn’t surprising. At the ECC, Zeels ended up taking an unexpectedly high number of top 32 slots, which led to hype for the deck spreading like wildfire.

While Zeels, overall, nabbed the most top slots, it seems the stronger CMT lists had an advantage. Despite having only about half as many slots in the top 8, it managed to score relatively the same amount of first place wins. I think this is probably because, week 1, CMT had the advantage in the meta game.

Everyone was gunning for Lightning, so Terrakion was really popular, which is a Pokémon not easily countered by Zeels. On the other hand, the most common way to counter CMT is to include Mewtwo EXs to be able to fight in the Mewtwo war, but in general, CMT/XTC is still going to have the edge in that fight, making its counters less effective.

pokemon-paradijs.comCombine that with its arguably stronger ability to steal games from set up-based decks as well as the chance that not everyone has multiple copies of Mewtwo EX (although most competitive players seem to have a few copies by now).

Making a stronger than expected showing was Durant, which did well enough to come in third in terms of most accomplished deck. It trails CMT and Zeels in both top 8 appearances and number of wins, but its still more than any other deck. Durant received a ton of hype-pre NDE, but due to its poor showing at the ECC, it was once again written off by the majority of players.

I feel like people gave the ECC way too much weight. It’s only a single tournament, so you’re not going to get an accurate picture of everything from that alone. I heard a ton of “TyRam did bad at the ECC, so it must be dead.” Tournaments like the ECC can be great indicators of the expected meta and gives everyone a good idea of which decks are/are not competitive, but with it only being one event, it’s too prone to influence by outliers. It can’t be the sole basis for ruling out a deck as viable.

Anyway, back to Durant. People do know how to play against it and certain strategies they can use to better the matchup, but because it was underestimated by so many people, I think people were more willing to sacrifice a win against Durant for other things. That wasn’t necessarily a bad meta game call, especially if it’s to make room for anti-CMT/Zeel techs, but it paved the way for Durant to retake its place as one of the stronger decks in the format.

Apart from Terrakion’s surprising splash at States, there weren’t too many other big surprises. TyRam managed to do better than expected, claiming 5 top 8 slots, including a first place at an international State/Province/Territory Championship. Despite Eelektrik claiming most of Typhlosion’s glory, TyRam is still a strong deck. If Durant is able to maintain its momentum, expect TyRam to do a little better next week.

Two Truth and EelZone builds, as well as an Electrode variant and rogue deck using Chandelure NDE, managed to squeeze their way into the top 8, but none were able to take home their respective events.

Something else that surprises me is that MessieMew never once broke into Top 8 anywhere in the country. It received a good amount of buzz because of its high placing at the ECC, so I was expecting at least a one or two builds to do well.

Tetrakion

Mark A. HicksOn every forum I’ve looked at, there have been multiple threads asking about Tetrakion. Everything from “What is it?” to “Where can I find Curran Hill’s deck list?” to “Is this a strong Terrakion list?” It’s natural to ask these questions; Tetrakion was easily the biggest “shock” of States, having done so well. And since it’s still looking to be a great choice for Week 2, players are scrambling to get any information that can help them build their own deck and/or play against it.

Michael Weldon aka Rokman did a good job of giving a basic idea of shedding some light on what QuadTerrakion/Tetrakion/Turbo Terrakion (TT) is and with this being such an important topic in order to do well at States, I would like to expand on some of his thoughts.

This deck is “all the rage,” so my team and I have been cramming to hammer out a list. It’s not perfected yet and we haven’t tested out some of the more unusual techs yet, but it has performed well enough for us that several members of my team are considering running it.

Pokémon – 4

4 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 43

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory

2 Black Belt
1 Copycat

 

4 Exp. Share
4 Heavy Ball

4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Lost Remover
3 Junk Arm

2 Defender
2 PlusPower
2 Revive
2 Switch

1 Crushing Hammer
1 Super Rod

1 Pokégear 3.0

Energy – 13

12 Fighting
1 Rescue

First things first, as the name would suggest, the featured Pokémon in this deck are Terrakion and… well, not much else. Terrakion rose to prominence in the format during City Championships for its ability to Revenge KO Pokémon such as Zekrom and Magnezone for just two Energy. Terrakion saw a lot of play in decks such as 6 Corners and The Truth.

pokegym.netThis deck is 100% an anti-metagame deck. The single biggest reason people run Terrakion is to counter Lightning Pokémon, so with Zeels being both the most popular and the most successful deck in the format, Terrakion is in an ideal catalyst to take advantage of this meta.

The goal of this deck is to constantly stream Terrakion throughout the game that can 1HKO any Lightning Pokémon in the format. To help meet Energy requirements, I’ve maxed out on Exp. Share, which allows you to repeatedly transfer Fighting Energy from fallen Terrakion onto fresh ones ready to do battle. Terrakion needs 2-3 Energy to attack, so without any sort of Energy acceleration, you’re going to run into trouble if your opponent is able to get a couple 1HKOs early in the game, which is where Exp. Share comes in.

Overall, this deck has a little bit of everything, PlusPower for 1HKOs, Pokémon Catcher for “sniping,” Defenders to prevent 1HKOs, Crushing Hammer/Lost Remover for Energy denial, etc.

You can run just about any build you want and you’re going to have a favorable match up against Zeels and other Lightning builds. So long as you don’t skimp on consistency cards, Durant can easily be a favorable match up as well, but the real trouble lies in CMT, more specifically, Tornadus.

Tornadus isn’t impossible to deal with, so it’s not an auto-loss, but it is unfavorable enough that it could jeopardize your chances of winning. In light of this, we built this deck so that we could have an advantage against CMT and in the mirror. Every way I look at it, Terrakion is only going to get more popular, which means mirror matches are going to be a lot more common, so you need to be factoring that into your planning.

To help both of these match ups, I dropped the Crushing Hammer count to make room for more Lost Remover. We don’t participate in the Mewtwo war, so getting rid of their pesky Double Colorless Energy isn’t any skin off our nose. Same thing goes for Tornadus, anything we can do to potentially stall them from attacking a turn, we’re going to do it.

Despite this, the low Crushing Hammer count may seem unusual, and it did to us as well, but testing showed that it wasn’t a huge deal. Like I said, the most popular matchups are either auto-wins or decks in which Lost Remover would be more beneficial. If this change doesn’t suit your playstyle and if you’re okay with coin flips, you can switch back to a lower Lost Remover count.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe other big tech we run is Black Belt. Against a non-Eviolite’d Tornadus, Black Belt puts it within 1HKO range. It increases your damage output enough so you can 1HKO Terrakion as well, assuming no Defender. It also helps out against less-commonly played, but still viable Pokémon such as Kyurem NVI, Reshiram BLW, and Typhlosion Prime (put within a PlusPower’s range of a 1HKO).

Now, there are several different partners that can be run along side Terrakion. One option is Landorus NVI, which also has the advantage of being a Fighting type. Another combination that saw play is Terrakion/Mewtwo/Tornadus, which is more of a techy variant. There has also been mention of other, more obscure options like Mew Prime, Regigigas-EX, Shaymin EX, and Reshiram-EX.

Combating Tetrakion

Next, I’d like to talk a bit about how you can beat QuadTerrakion if you’re playing one of the other popular decks in the format.

One of the best cards to counter Tetrakion is Shaymin EX. The number of competitive attacking Grass Pokémon in the format is quite limited, but thankfully, Shaymin EX is one of them. This means you’ll be able to 1HKO a Terrakion when your opponent has taken just a couple of prizes, even if they played Defender.

Unfortunately, it’s worth two prizes when KO’d, but thanks to its Fighting Weakness, short of a Black Belt play, it’s going to be outside the 1HKO range.

And in all seriousness, even if you’re trading 2 for 2 prizes with Tetrakion and Shaymin EX, you might actually be gaining the advantage there. Your opponent is going to need a ton of resources to keep up in that exchange, 5-6 Energy and 2 Terrakion where you just need the Shaymin and two Energy.

Again, testing is still in the early phases, but what actually was actually a pretty solid counter to Tetra in Zeels was running two Pokégear 3.0, two Twins, a Shaymin EX, 2 Prism Energy, and maybe a Revive. There’s virtually no chance of you getting ahead against Tetrakion, so you’ll be able to consistently have Twins “active.” Instead of clogging our deck up with a come from behind card, we can run two Pokégear 3.0, which will still allow us to get it consistently. (I know this idea was mentioned in a previous UG article, but I can’t remember who.)

Anyway, these cards were solid inclusions in some other matchups as well and they had little affect on consistency, so they’re definitely cards to consider.

pokemon-paradijs.comThanks to Tornadus and a fast and efficient Energy accelerator, CMT has a fairly strong matchup against Terrakion, but it’s not in auto-win territory yet, though, despite what some people are saying. Tetrakion also has several effective options that I mentioned earlier that make this matchup much closer.

However, you can do quite a bit to counteract this simply by running Shaymin EX. You can power it up in a single turn and already run hoards of Grass Energy, so its a natural inclusion. If you want to put Tetrakion “back in its place,” Shaymin EX is going to be a really strong choice.

If you’re playing Zeels, your main strategy here is going to be to try and score as many 1HKOs as possible to try and overwhelm their Energy attachments. Exp. Share isn’t searchable, so if you can get 1-2 KOs early in the game, you could end up leaving your opponent with a turn or two gap where they can’t attack.

N can be effective against them, but it’s not a sure thing. Eventually, their field can get to a point that they can manage without much support from their hand for a couple of turns if they have multiple Terrakion, Fighting Energy, Exp. Share, etc., in play. It’s not an ideal strategy, but for Zeels, Tetrakion is 35-65 at best, so you need to use any method available to you to try and take way their advantage.

As for Durant, there’s not really a ton you can do. Maxing out on Crushing Hammers and spamming them has helped, delaying the time until they start killing Durants to turn 4-5. Extra recovery has helped somewhat, but if they get a Terrakion set up and attacking too early, there won’t be much you can do. So yeah, Energy denial is your most effective tactic here.

Week 2 – Meta Predictions + What’s “The Play”?

Next I’d like to talk about about what the meta might look like for Week 2. For starters, Zeels is going to stay roughly as popular as it was last weekend. A few people will pick it up because of its strong showing Week 1 and others will drop it for fear of Tetrakion, but for the most part it should all average out.

While I’m on that topic, I’m predicting that Tetrakion play is going to skyrocket. A strong, consistent, and somewhat cheap rogue (though it’s not really rogue anymore) with an auto-win against the BDIF and solid matchups against most of the other decks in the format. Oh yeah, it’s going to see play.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe one deck I haven’t been able to nail down is CMT. I’d imagine its going to stay roughly the same, and with it being the fastest deck in the format, I expect it will hold its position as one of the best decks in the format.

I think Durant’s play, or at least Durant’s success, might drop a little bit. Zeels, CMT and Tetrakion all have solid matchups against it, so I think it’s going to struggle to do as well Week 2. Even though TyRam didn’t win a single US States (it did win an international one, though), it did manage five top 8 appearances, which may be enough to get people to start playing it again. TyRam’s matchups are a lot better than people given them credit for, so I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if its performance actually improved week two.

With the format being well-defined, you can definitely expect an increase in the number of anti-meta and rogue decks at States. Playing an anti-meta game deck in an unknown format is a really risky play, but now the format no longer a mystery.

At Cities, the format was incredibly diverse, but the format has “undiversified” itself in a really short amount of time, which makes the format incredibly exploitable. It reminds me a lot of the 2008 format, where if you could build a deck that had a strong match ups against Empoleon and Plox, you were a favorite to win the entire tournament.

The Play

After having really looking at the state of the format, I think the two strongest plays for week two of States are going to be CMT followed by a Tetrakion build that’s running something for CMT and the mirror. Right now, the entire meta is out to get Lightning, so instead of hoping to overcome all that hate, it seems like a smarter mover to just play something else.

Most builds are also running Mewtwo EX for the CMT match up, but your ability to get ahead on prizes early gives you an advantage in the Mewtwo war. It’s a really strong, consistent deck that’s only benefiting from the Zeels vs Tetrakion struggle.

Tetrakion will be a great way to prey on the popularity of Zeels, but a build that’s really unfavorable against CMT and no edge in the mirror isn’t going to get very far. If you can nail down those two things while maintaining consistency and your wicked strong Zeels matchup, you’re going to do really well.

Either of these decks would be a solid deck choice, but ultimately, the deck I’ll be playing at the Wisconsin SC is CMT. It has a strong match up against Tetrakion, can win Mewtwo EX wars more often than any other deck in the format and has a huge advantage in donk/sudden death situations.

Mirror Matches

mortalkombat.wikia.comEasily the two most dominating decks in the format are CMT and Zeels. These are both relatively new decks, only really having gotten so much popularity after the ECC, which took place just a few weeks ago. In my last article, I mentioned that I do a lot of testing with my team of over 25 players, and as a team, we divide up the work and share our results. During our research and development phase, like when a new set comes out, we’ll divide up the work.

Once the format is pretty established, we’ll spend a certain amount of time coming up with new rogues and stuff like that, but the majority of our time is spent coming up with new techs and polishing our lists. If the average player plays 10 games a day, our large team can do in a day what would take a single player almost a month.

CMT and Zeels are still pretty fresh decks and most players still have kinks that need to be worked out, whether it be their list isn’t quite flowing right or they don’t have the matchups 100% down yet. These two decks are experiencing a ton of popularity and success, and I’d be willing to bet that 90% of you reading this article are at least considering playing CMT or Zekrom/Eelektrik. If you’re running either of those decks, you can be sure you’re going to face more than a few mirrors, so this next part will focus on playing these two mirror matches.

Mirror Match – Zekrom/Eelektrik/Mewtwo EX/(Zapdos/Thundrus/Zekrom-EX/Zebstrika)

This mirror match isn’t super tricky to play, but it does require a bit of intuition. Most builds run 3-4 different attackers, two of which are usually Zekrom and Mewtwo EX.

First things first, in the early stages of the game, you’ll need need to balance the resources you spend getting an attacker set up with the resources you put into getting Eelektriks going. Sometimes, the latter can help with the former. This is actually one of the trickiest parts of the game because the choices you make will have a major impact on the rest of the match.

pokemon-paradijs.comOne general guideline I try to follow is to match pace with my opponent. But at the same time, you need to take into account what kind of hand you have and plan accordingly. If your opponent gets a turbo start of a fully charged Zekrom, two Eelektrik and a Zekrom-EX on their bench Turn 2 and you’ve got a weak hand, you’re not going to be able to keep up with that.

In this sort of situation, you want to do what you can to hold off your opponent to buy you time to get set up. Trying to mount an improper offensive with something like a Thundrus is not going to be a smart use of resources. Be patient, try to force through a set up and then launch a real assault with something like two Eviolited Zekrom. You’re making a strategic retreat; pull back, regroup and then go after the enemy.

Now, let’s say you’re on the flip side of things; you’ve got a powerful start to your opponent’s slow one. This is the time in the game where Pokémon Catcher is going to be strongest. By dragging up a benched Pokémon, whether a vulnerable Tynamo or an attacker they’re hoping to save for a bit later in the game, killing things on their bench can mess with your opponent’s strategy and hopefully poke a hole in their plans.

A strong start can go a long way toward shoring up a game, but just be careful about forcing just an average start or even slow start into a quick one. If you end up using a ton of resources to get attacking Turn 2 (like wasting resources with Juniper/Junk Arm), there’s one of two ways how things can go.

First, if your opponent has a slow start and can’t respond to your Zekrom or Thundrus, it can be huge in disrupting your opponent’s set up, killing precious resources like Tynamo, and securing early prizes for little investment. But on the other hand, if your opponent gets a solid or even a strong start, they’re going to be able to kill the lone attacker you set up and use their superior resources to completely overwhelm you.

There will be times when overextending will be a sound move, but you’ve really got to be careful about it because, if you mistake a slow start for a strong one (either yours or your opponent’s), it will cost you dearly.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to Dynamotor is you can only attach the Energy to your bench. Compared to “Afterburner,” which belongs to a Stage 2 and damages your Pokémon, it may not seem like a big deal, but it’s really important that you don’t underestimate your own Pokémons’ flaws either.

pokemon-paradijs.comIn the mid and late game, once you’ve got set up and can use your Supporters to keep resources (Energy, attackers, etc.) coming, it isn’t much to worry about. Somewhere around turns 2 and 3 is when you’re going to notice Dynamotor’s weakness the most.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played against players who will do things like play Pokémon Collector, double Communication for two Eelektrik, evolve the two Tynamo on their bench and then mumble “oh crap.” In Zeels, you’ve got a harder to use Energy Accelerator and multiple attackers to choose from, which makes this a much more difficult deck to play than TyRam. When you’re planning out future moves, you’ve got to do this in a lot more detail than most decks in the format.

The Mewtwo War

Just about every deck in the format is running two copies of Mewtwo EX, with decks like CMT running even more. Zeels is no exception, with Mewtwo being one of the primary attackers in most builds. With Mewtwo playing such a big part in Zeels and since Eelektrik provides the Energy acceleration needed for a player to keep up in an exchange, you can definitely expect Mewtwo wars to play a part in mirror matches.

Mewtwo wars are pretty much the same here as they are in just about every other matchup with one major exception: Zekrom-EX, a one-of in most Zeels lists, and Black Belt, an aggressive come from behind Supporter. In general, the best way to win the Mewtwo war is to simply not start it.

Most players run two copies, so if they’re the first to bring it up, take a single prize on something like Zekrom, they you’ll be the first to kill a Mewtwo and collect two prizes. They’ll probably follow up with a revenge KO on your Mewtwo, but then you can do the same to theirs. In this time, they’ve collected three prizes while you’ve taken four, putting you ahead on the prize trade AND you’ve still got a Mewtwo EX ready to go.

A great way to break the Mewtwo war is using Zekrom-EX and Black Belt. Combining for a total of 190 damage, which is enough to 1HKO even an Eviolite’d Mewtwo EX, this is an effective strategy for several reasons:

1. Black Belt allows Zekrom-EX to act as a third Mewtwo EX without actually needing to run one. This also gives your deck more flexibility and options in various matchups because you’ve got one more attacker to use.

2. If a Mewtwo war starts when both players have six prizes, you can win it even if your Mewtwo was KO’d first (like if you started with it). You respond with your Mewtwo, so you’re both at 4-4 prizes. Then, they’ll bring up another one, making the prizes 2-4 in their favor. If you bring up your second Mewtwo, you loose if they’re running a third copy or can recover it somehow, like with Revive or Super Rod + a search card.

But, if you bring up Zekrom-EX and play Black Belt, you bring down the prizes to 2-2 AND you’ve got yourself a Pokémon that won’t fall to an X-Ball 1HKO. In fact, Black Belt has actually worked so well for me that I’ve included it in my potential Zeels list for States. I’d also like to mention that three players in my team included Black Belt in their lists for States this past weekend and they reached the top 32, top 16 and top 8, respectively.

Techs – What, When, and How

To wrap up this section, I’d like to discuss some commonly run techs in Zeels and if/how you should use them in this match up.

First off, we have . Those of you who played back in 2006, Zebstrika is a near identical reprint of Manectric-EX (it was e back then, not EX). MewTric is one of my favorite decks of all time (I’ve got the World Championship reprint of it, too), so as soon as I saw the English scan of Zebstrika, I immediately recolonized its attacks.

In general, people wrote the card off as not being very strong, but having been included in several top cut Zeel builds at the ECC, it received a lot of attention. Its main purpose is to counter Durant and to lock slower decks down while you freely set up behind it. But at the top tables of US States, Zebstrika was virtually non-existent. I think Esa’s Zapdos/Zebstrika/Eelektrik build is interesting, but I don’t recommend anyone include Zebstrika in their Zeel builds.

An early one-sided Trainer lock can be helpful, but only against slower decks. Against faster arch types like CMT and Zekrom/Eelektrik, you’re going to be better off using your resources to set up and not for Zebstrika. If you want early game pressure, Thundrus is your best bet. It’s much more of a self-starter, does higher damage and can work as an early Energy accelerator with Shaymin. If you’re looking for a way to hit the bench without using Pokémon Catcher, you’re better off going with Zapdos.

pokemon-paradijs.comThundrus EPO and Zapdos NDE can be useful in the mirror match. Either of these Pokémon can be powered up by Turn 2 without an Energy accelerator, which makes them ideal Pokémon for applying pressure to your opponent’s set up. Zapdos has the advantage of being able to hit your opponent’s bench, but Thundrus can hit for higher damage and has more niche uses, like better softening up targets later in the game and the aforementioned synergy with Shaymin.

Finally we have Zekrom-EX, which I talked a bit about earlier in the article and how you can use it to win the Mewtwo EX war, but it has other benefits, too. Basically, you want to use this card to take down anything that Zekrom can’t, whether it be that fresh Zekrom with an Eviolite your opponent is using to stall or an opposing Zekrom-EX (with BB).

In conclusion, like any mirror match, a big factor in who wins the game will be luck. But, if you run the right techs and really know the ins and outs of the match up, you can definitely push your wins beyond 50/50 territory.

Mirror Match – Celebi Prime/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus

For starters, this entire match up is all about the Tornadus and Mewtwo wars, with the first leading into the latter. The beginning of the game is going to be a series of Tornadus vs Tornadus battles. Both players know that the player who first looses a Mewtwo EX is at a severe disadvantage, so both players are going to be using their Tornadus to try and draw out the other’s Mewtwo.

One interesting tech is for this match up is Lost Remover. Initially, it doesn’t seem like a very good inclusion because it makes it more difficult to 1HKO Mewtwo EX with your own Mewtwo. However, if you use it during the Tornadus war to get ride of a DCE, your opponent will only have two ways to respond.

Either they’ll be forced to skip a turn of attacking with Tornadus, putting you a turn ahead in the “Tornadus exchange”, or waste another DCE or a Switch + 2 Grass Energies from their hand to get it attacking again. Either way is good for you because you’re draining your opponent’s valuable resources with a single card.

Perhaps the most important way to win the CMT mirror match will be consistency. You need to get an attacker going Turn 2 at the very latest and keep up with the exchanges. For this reason, N can be a really huge asset because it messes up with your opponent’s consistency. Even if you’ve got a super consistent turbo build, being reduced to a 1-2 card hand in the end game can be disastrous.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe ECC winner’s build contained 4 copies of N and a lot of people questioned the fact that he ran any at all, but as soon as I tested it out, I realized just how potent it is. Even if you aren’t giving your opponent a microscopic hand, even a 3-4 card hand when your opponent is caught off guard can still give you an advantage. Had they known their hand was going to “disappear,” they might have done things differently, like attach that DCE or bench that Mewtwo.

Chris Fulop talked quite a bit about PlusPower and Eviolite in CMT, so I’ll just touch upon it briefly. In his article, he was dead on about PlusPower; in a ton of situations, most notably the Mewtwo war, PlusPower is going to be really, really strong. It also helps you reach other magic numbers, such as Eelektrik’s 90 HP with Tornadus or Magnemite’s 50 HP with X-Ball.

As for Eviolite, I think his analysis was pretty spot on too. Just because you’re running big Basics doesn’t mean you should automatically add in Eviolite; you’ve gotta play the matchups and actually see how many common situations occur where an extra 10-20 HP would have been helpful.

I do, however, think he undersold a bit its usefulness in the Mewtwo war. In its early phases, getting the three Energy necessary for the 1HKO won’t be a big deal, but during a quick Mewtwo exchange where players are scrambling to return the KO, forcing them to repeatedly extend for that extra Energy, or better yet whiff on the KO altogether, is a pretty big advantage.

Helpful Plays & Awesome Techs

Originally, my CMT lists strictly ran 3-4 Skyarrow Bridge. But over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been phasing in a few copies of Switch. Theoretically, it doesn’t seem like a smart move because Skyarrow lets Celebi Retreat for free multiple times, whereas Switch is a one time thing.

However, a big part of Switch’s strength is the fact that you can play it and still Retreat in the same turn. This is especially helpful during the Tornadus war; you can Retreat Tornadus into Celebi, use “Forest Breath,” and then Switch back into Tornadus.

In most of my builds, I run something like 3 Skyarrow Bridge and 1-2 Switch. This way, you’ve got up to 5 cards in your deck that will let you use Forest Breath and then get it out of the active position so you can start attacking, which makes attacking Turn 1 more feasible. Switch isn’t a replacement for Skyarrow Bridge, but more like frosting to a cake; it makes the cake taste a whole lot better.

pokemon-paradijs.comAnother card I’m a real big fan of in CMT is Shaymin. It isn’t so much of a tech for the mirror match, but more to help you in other match ups. Being able to get a 5 Energy Mewtwo EX in play out of nowhere can completely ruin any calculations about HP and damage output. It also helps during the Tornadus war because its a search-able way to keep using Hurricane without having to keep manually attaching Energy.

Now, back to the mirror match. Pokémon Catcher is just okay here. Any player worth his weight in pine cones isn’t going to be making silly mistakes like putting a Mewtwo EX on their bench and just letting it sit there when you’ve got your own Mewtwo active. There will be a couple of fringe uses, like if you follow up a late game N by killing their only Celebi when they have no Energy in play. But in general, it’s not going to be super helpful, so you don’t have to worry about using them for Junk Arm fodder here.

I’ve been seeing some builds running things like a 4/2 split between Tornadus and Mewtwo, which I 100% disagree with. A lot of players were thinking that Tornadus is simply going to be outmatched by all the super-strong Basic EXs. Even though it’s managed to find its uses in the format, there was a reason for all that talk; Tornadus is outclassed with its only use being an early-game attacker (and maybe a Fighting counter).

With a somewhat low damage output and Lightning Pokémon being so popular, Tornadus should not be your main attacker. Also, this being CMT, you should be winning the majority of Mewtwo wars, which is more difficult to do with only two copes of Mewtwo. The ideal Mewtwo EX/Tornadus split is 4/3, which is enough to have at minimum a 50/50 shot in the Tornadus and Mewtwo matches while taking into account that Mewtwo EX is the main attacker of the deck.

Shaymin EX

The last card I’d like to talk about is Shaymin EX, which is really, really strong in CMT. During the late game, Shaymin can be hitting for up to 180 damage, able to 1HKO virtually any Pokémon (assuming no Eviolite). Combine this with the fact that CMT already runs a ton of Grass Energy to power it up (no need to bog down consistency with Prism Energies) and Celebi’s ability to power up a “surprise” Revenge Blast and you’ve got one heck of a tech.

But despite all these advantages, a ton of lists still don’t run it. I think the biggest reason for this is that Shaymin EX is generally known as a pretty bad starter because it does very little damage in the early game and because of its EX status (which alone doesn’t make it bad, but with only 110 HP, it’s way too fragile).

pokemon-paradijs.comHowever, I think CMT is one of the few decks (along with The Truth) that can salvage a Shaymin EX start. You have the option of Synthesis, which can act as a stand in for Celebi’s Forest Breath when combined with Skyarrow Bridge/Switch and Shaymin. If you start with it in the mirror match, your best bet is going to be getting the Mewtwo war started as soon as possible.

Now, when I say this, I don’t mean recklessly putting up a three Energy Mewtwo EX to be KO’d, but do what you can to pressure your opponent into starting it. During the Tornadus war, there’s less pressure on each player since its a battle of 2HKOs, so they’ll have no problem using a double Pokémon Catcher to 2HKO Shaymin EX and lose their Tornadus. But during the Mewtwo war, unless if you whiff on a return KO, a 2HKO on Shaymin EX isn’t going to be a priority for them, so it should be safe until you need it.

By the second half of the game, it’s almost certain the Mewtwo exchange is well under way. Shaymin EX on its own is strong, but where it gets the most broken is when you play it in conjunction with cards like N, Lost Remover, etc. Because it doesn’t rely on your opponent to have Energy on their Pokémon nor does it have a Psychic Weakness, these cards are all really strong.

I mean, if they have a Mewtwo in play with a DCE on it, you’re able to reduce them to a 1 card hand, AND discard their only in play Energy, your odds of winning go up dramatically, even if you’re a few prizes behind.

You can use Eviolite to prevent the DCE + Grass Energy X-Ball 1HKO on Shaymin when its got two Energies on it, making them reach for that fourth Energy and a PlusPower (remember, a late N makes that really difficult).

Fire Power, Baby

Just like last month, I put up a thread in the forums asking which subjects you want to see in an Underground article. One popular request was more information on Fire decks.

Fire rules.

In my last UG article, I included a pretty big section on TyRam; I included my list as well as an analysis. Looking back at that list, I still stand by my recommendation that that sort of TyRam list has potential at States. I still think Virizion is a slightly better choice than Cleffa, especially in a deck that runs a high Sage’s count.

I think the Pokémon, Trainer and Supporter lines are about as consistent as they can be and the two Mewtwo EX are necessary for the Mewtwo war. If I included an updated list, at best it would be 1-2 cards off, so instead I decided to talk about Emboar, which has gotten exceptionally little coverage.

Early hype for Next Destinies pegged Reshiram-EX, Emboar and FlipTini as a new top-tier deck, but as time went on, people started to remember the reasons why ReshiBoar has never been the BDIF and people started focusing on other things like CMT, EelZone, Zeels, Durant, etc. Even though ExBoar has seen little play at States thus far, I think the right list could go far.

So, here it is:

Pokémon – 15

3 Tepig BLW 15

1 Pignite BLW 17
3 Emboar NXD
3 Reshiram-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX

2 Cleffa CL
1 Victini NVI 14

Trainers – 32

4 Sage’s Training
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Pokémon Collector

 

4 Rare Candy

3 Eviolite
3 Heavy Ball

2 Junk Arm
2 Pokémon Catcher

2 Super Scoop Up
2 Switch
1 Pokémon Communication
1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

9 Fire
4 Double Colorless

First things first, there are a lot of little and a couple big differences between this build and most of the others that I’ve seen. But you know what, I’m actually kind of glad. For the most part, Emboar variants have underperformed at States. I’m sure there were some people playing it, but for whatever reason, not too many of them ended up going deep into the tournament.

pokemon-paradijs.comSo, if I just play a standard, run-of-the-mill build, there’s no reason why I should expect to go any further than they did. So, in building this list, I started from the ground up. I re-tested everything, from the Supporter counts to the Pokémon and Trainer lines.

We’ll start at the beginning. I’ve made it clear that I prefer Virizion to Cleffa in TyRam, but I’ve taken quite a liking to Cleffa in Emboar-based builds. Virizion worked better with ReshiPhlosion mainly because Afterburner can get Energy back from the discard pile, and you need to use one Energy attachment to get Virizion out of the active, so the 2-4 card benefit was definitely worth it.

But when you’re running Emboar and Reshiram-EX, as well as an Eviolite and/or FlipTini, the mass draw Cleffa offers is better suited here. It also functions as a pretty good placeholder for when I use Super Scoop Up on my active Pokémon.

The standard Emboar line seems to be 3-1-2, but I stopped running this in my builds pretty early on in my testing. Even though you don’t need multiple Emboar in play at a time like you do Typhlosion, your opponent is going to be making every attempt to KO Emboar and leave you without an Energy accelerator, so having a third Emboar in there makes it so you can get another one in play if need be, not to mention it gives you a little more insurance against bad prizes. The thicker line also helps you get an Emboar up and running Turn 2 a lot more consistently, which is crucial in a lot of match ups.

In the early phases of testing, the list did include 1-2 copies of Reshiram. I won’t deny it has its merits; a non-EX attacker capable of taking cheap prizes. The biggest issue with it was the amount of space it took. Even though the actual Reshirams only took a couple of spaces, in order really get the most out of it, I had to add in at least 1-2 Energy Retrievals/Fisherman. Again, these wouldn’t have necessarily been bad inclusions, but I would have had to take out too much other, even more important things.

Other than that, the Pokémon lines aren’t anything out of the ordinary. Reshiram-EX serves as an excellent main attacker. Apart from Mewtwo EX and a tinge of Zekrom-EX, none of the other “big” EXs are seeing common play, which makes its 150 damage output more than enough to deal with most threats.

pokemon-paradijs.comTo handle opposing Mewtwo, we’ve got our own two copies that can quickly be powered up with Emboar to score surprise KOs. As for Zekrom-EX, both of the dragons have the same damage output, it will usually be a battle of 2HKOs (between FlipTini and Eviolite, it will be pretty rare that your opponent is able score the 1HKO).

To help give me the edge in these 2HKO exchanges, I’ve enlisted the help of two Super Scoop Up. Even though their usefulness is dependent on a coin flip, they’ve still been Super useful (no one could resist such a terrible pun). Being able to save a Reshiram-EX before it’s KO’d denies my opponent two prizes and with Emboar, you can get it fully set up again in the same turn.

Speaking of, Super Scoop Up also helps us deal with the situations where my opponent tries to drag up and stall behind an Emboar. We can either use Super Scoop Up to get it out of the active or play Switch (or use Junk Arm for either of these cards). With the maxed out Rare Candy count, it’ll shorten the delay before Emboar is back in play again to 0-1 turns, if I had a Tepig already in play.

Also, unlike Reshiram, which needs Emboar to stay in play for pretty much the entire game, Reshiram-EX is more difficult to KO and doesn’t discard Energy every turn, so it can easily continue to function for a turn or two until you can get an Emboar back on the field.

Now, I’d like to briefly address a few other notable inclusions/cards not in the list. I don’t run any Twins because this isn’t designed to be a slow deck. Many changes to the list, like the thick Emboar line and four Rare Candy, help keep you from regularly falling behind. Because we’ve got things like Emboar, Pignite and Reshiram-EX, we can make good use of Heavy Ball, but I do run one Pokémon Communication just to add a little more flexibility to the deck. It can also search out Mewtwo EX, which has come in handy more than once.

The Junk Arm count is pretty light, but it’s not as strong in here as it is in decks like EelZone or Zeels, where you want to thin out your hand and get Energy in the discard pile. I originally cut out the third Junk Arm due to space constraints, but even after I found the room to add it back in again, I ended up not doing that because it simply isn’t as important here. Two copies has more than sufficed.

This list doesn’t contain any Fisherman or Energy Retrieval, but since Reshiram-EX is much less Energy intensive than its non-EX counterpart (and it can use DCE), just running a lone Super Rod has worked out fine. Super Rod also serves the use of acting as a 4th Emboar/3rd Mewtwo/4th Reshiram/etc.

Matchups

Zeels

pokemon-paradijs.comYour match up against Zeels is right around 50/50, maybe slightly higher or lower. You’ve got Stage 2 Energy acceleration in Emboar and Eelektrik is only a Stage 1, but with Reshiram-EX’s high damage output, they’re going to need a second Eel in play to keep up in the exchanges.

Either deck has the potential to start hitting fast, early and hard, but I’d say that you have a slight advantage in that category. With the right hand, you can be hitting for 150 damage each turn as early as Turn 2, a feat that’s pretty rare for Zeels. They might be able to get a Zekrom going by Turn 2, especially if they run Pachirisu CL, but in the early game, the gap between a powered up Reshiram-EX and a fully charged Zekrom is larger than it is at any other point.

Terrakion

The Turbo Terrakion match up is pretty strongly in our favor. About half the builds I’ve seen run mono-Terrakion lists and the other half have been coupling it with things like Mewtwo EX, Tornadus or Landorus. Whether it’s a solo list or if it’s running a partner, you’ve still got a distinct advantage.

For starters, its offensive power tops off at 90 which is only enough to score a 2HKO (a 3HKO if you’ve got an Eviolite on a fresh Reshiram). EXP Share and/or Landorus provide a form of Energy acceleration and the later can be a pretty decent attacker in the early game, but as soon as you can get a Reshiram-EX up and running, which isn’t difficult with Emboar and/or DCE, your opponent’s going to start struggling.

Once this happens, the pressure on your field will lighten, which in turn lets you set up more, which lets you apply more pressure on your opponent and it’ll be one big domino effect until you overwhelm your opponent. Just be ready for Pokémon Catcher.

CMT

Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus is the other top deck in the format. This matchup is close enough that either player has a reasonable chance of victory. Like in any matchup that involves a fast deck, this match up hinges on the starts each player gets. If the ExBoar player can get a Turn 2 Emboar + Brave Fire, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to overwhelm their opponent. However, if they can’t get going until several turns into the game, especially if the CMT player can disrupt them every step of the way, they’re going to have a tough time pulling off the win.

In a more even game, you’re going to want to be very careful with your Pokémon Catcher drops. At most, you only have access to four, so you want to make sure each one counts. Your two goals in the early to mid game should be disrupting Energy drops and getting ahead on prizes. That way, if/when it turns to a full-out Mewtwo war, you’ll have the advantage.

TyRam

pokemon-paradijs.com

This deck managed to secure five top 8 slots at States this weekend and took home one international Championship in Italy. Of the builds that went the furthest, I’d love to know whether their decks focused on Reshiram BLW or Reshiram-EX. I would assume the former, since it far exceeded the latter in my testing, but anything is possible.

Earlier in the season, ReshiBoar’s match ups weren’t strong enough to let it win many events. However, the one undisputed strong match up it always had is TyRam. TyRam players were repeatedly forced to come up with a PlusPower for every single KO while the Emboar player did not, putting them at a major disadvantage.

Even today, when Emboar and Typhlosion face off, Emboar still has a big leg up in the match. First off, you’re going to be stronger in the early game. If they’re running Reshiram-EX, in all likelihood they won’t start using any attack besides Glinting Claw until Turn 3. But thanks to us needing only a single Stage 2 Pokémon that isn’t restricted to accelerating one Energy per turn, you’ve got a sizable chance of being able to start dishing out 150 damage as early as Turn 2-3.

Speaking of, having “full-use” Energy acceleration in a single card has been really beneficial to this decks performance. In TyRam and Zeels, you need to get as many Eelektrik in play as possible whereas in Emboar-based decks, any Emboar you manage to get in play after the first is just a luxury, not a necessity.

Against Reshiram-EX builds, it will mostly be trading 2HKOs, but eventually they’re going to get Double Tails and end up damaging Reshiram. Put that together with Afterburner damage and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to score at least one 1HKO in the game, putting you ahead on prizes.

If you’re playing against a Reshiram BLW-based list, the match up is going to be closer to 50/50, although a Turn 2 Brave Fire (hopefully with Eviolite/FlipTini) can go a long way. You also have the advantage of being able to 1HKO their Typhlosion whereas they’ll struggle to take down Emboar in a single blow (although they’re probably running a teched in Resh EX).

Durant

After CMT and Zeels, Durant was probably the most successful deck at States, which was unexpected by most players because of its poor performance at the ECC (I thought Durant would make a bit of a comeback, so that was a nice ego boost for me).

pokemon-paradijs.comExBoar has a very strong Durant match up as it runs several attackers that can score 1HKOs on Durant. Pignite, who can also charge up itself via its Flame Charge attack. Using Pignite, you’ll be able to repeatedly Knock Out Durant regardless of Eviolite/Special Metals as early as Turn 3. Both Reshiram-EX and Emboar have the capability to start 1HKOing Durant by Turn 3 as well.

Overall, its match ups are pretty solid for this meta. You can be put in some tough spots, but with enough experience and the right list, Emboar has the potential to make it to the top.

Zeels

Because of Zeels immense popularity, since the ECC I’ve looked at a ton of different Zeels lists. My pre-ECC testing had shown Zeel to be strong, but I had also underestimated how popular it would be, so post-ECC, I’ve put a lot of time toward Zeels research and development.

During this period, I must have looked at several dozen lists, but I didn’t really take a liking to any of them. That’s not to say they weren’t good (I’ve seen some lists in the past few UG articles that are really, really strong), but I felt like Zeels needing something to give it that edge so I wouldn’t just be playing 50/50 mirrors all day.

This is what I came up with:

Pokémon – 16

3 Tynamo NVI 39
1 Tynamo NVI 38

3 Eelektrik NVI

3 Zekrom BLW
2 Zekrom-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX
1 Shaymin UL
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 30

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Professor Juniper
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory/N
2 Sage’s Training
2 Black Belt

 

3 Junk Arm

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Level Ball
2 Eviolite

2 Switch
1 Super Rod
1 Pokémon Communication
1 PlusPower

Energy – 14

10 Lightning

4 Double Colorless

The main strategy here is still to lead off with Zekrom BLW. Of all the attacking options, it’s the most well rounded; its attack is easy enough to power up that you can have an offensive presence in the first few turns of the game and it does enough damage that you’re actually applying a good amount of offensive pressure to your opponent. And because Zekrom is not an EX, you can keep up in a prize exchange with a deck that focuses on Pokémon EX by scoring a 2HKO for each of their 1HKOs.

Zeels is a really flexible deck and as such, you have a lot of control of when and how the Mewtwo exchange occurs, so you can make sure it starts at a time that’s favorable to you. Once a Mewtwo exchange starts, there’s a good chance the player who wins it shall win the game, so being able to increase your chances of winning said exchange is really desirable.

The consistency Supporter and Trainer counts are pretty standard and the maxed out DCE shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. I think that 10 Lightning Energy is probably the ideal number. Running 11 or 12 takes too much room away from more important things and dropping down to 9 can affect your early game.

For the mirror match, instead of running Terrakion which just makes the deck clunky, I’ve decided to include two Black Belt. Just like Terrakion, Black Belt helps give you an advantage in the mirror match by helping you score a crucial 1HKO. Often times, mirror matches go back and forth quite a bit in terms of prizes and board position, and BB is card that can abuse those kinds of games. Last season, some players did a similar thing by including a copy of Twins in their LuxChomp builds.

Instead of letting you fish out cards from your deck when you’ve fallen behind in prizes, Black Belt increases damage output by 40 during the turn. One of the best ways to use BB is during the last leg of the Mewtwo EX war (a lot like Shaymin EX) in conjunction with Zekrom-EX.

If you had the misfortune of being the first player to loose a Mewtwo EX, use this combo when prizes are 2-4 in your opponent’s favor. If you bring up a Mewtwo EX to score the last KO, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to bring up their own and get the revenge KO for the game. However, if you use Zekrom-EX, regardless if its been equipped with Eviolite, you can tie the prizes and you’ll have a Pokémon that Mewtwo will have a lot of trouble dealing with. This sort of tactic is especially helpful against CMT where Mewtwo EX is their only real heavy hitter.

Between Junk Arm, Black Belt and the increased focus on Zekrom-EX, the single copy of PlusPower has never hindered me from getting a Knock Out.

I think the only other “different” card in this list is Tyrogue. Tyrogue saw a ton of play earlier in the season, but as Cleffa’s popularity dwindled because of Yanmega Prime, Kyurem NVI, Chandelure NVI, etc., Tyrogue lost a lot of its strength. But now, with Zeels arguably the most popular deck in the format and the fact that its going to be running 3-4 Tynamo, Tyrogue is in a position to make a huge comeback. Being able to take a cheap Turn 1 prize, stretch their Tynamo count AND potentially score the donk. Sign me up.

Landorus/Mewtwo EX

Pokémon – 7

4 Landorus NVI
2 Mewtwo-EX
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Sage’s Training
2 Pokémon Collector

 

4 Dual Ball

3 Junk Arm
3 PlusPower
3 Pokégear 3.0
3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Exp. Share

2 Switch

1 Defender
1 Eviolite
1 Super Rod

Energy – 16

12 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

Possible Tech Options include: Black Belt, Lost Remover, Regigigas-EX, N, Ruins of Alph, Revive

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is an anti-metagame rogue that I started building about a week before the ECC, when the expected meta for States was Lightning, Mewtwo EX and Durant. Fortunately, this ended up being pretty spot on of what the actual meta would be, so all my hard work was not in vain. If you like the concept behind QuadTerrakion, give this deck a shot.

Landorus/Mewtwo’s Lightning match up is only slightly weaker than Tetrakion’s, but is still plenty to consistently beat Zeels. In exchange, it offers a bit more well-roundedness in terms of match ups against the rest of the field.

This deck plays quite a bit like the QuadTerrakion builds that been floating around. The objective is to hit hard and fast and, thanks to Landorus being a Fighting type, you’ll be able to hit for twice as much damage against any Lighting-based deck, specifically Zeels. Early builds ran only 4 Landorus and a Shaymin, but I scrapped the idea of a mono-Landorus deck due to its less than even CMT match up.

Eventually a member of my team suggested I try running Mewtwo EX, which drastically improved our chances against CMT. Theoretically, Landorus is awful against CMT, but in reality, Landorus is much stronger here than it is on paper, although not strong enough to win the matchup on its own, which is why Mewtwo is a necessary inclusion.

Once I added the second Mewtwo, it made CMT a much closer match up, helped against a variety of other decks and removed one of the best outs Zeels has against Fighting-based decks. If need be, you can use Super Rod to have access to a third Mewtwo, too.

Even after having seen the States results, I still think that Landorus is at least as strong as Terrakion. Terrakion’s maximum damage output is 90 and Landorus’ is only 80, but it does hit benched Pokémon, which you can soften up targets. Terrakion’s other big merit is its higher HP, but in exchange, Landorus can self-accelerate Energy, letting it hit for maximum damage sooner than Terrakion. Landorus also has the Lightning Resistance, so against Zeels, its HP is as good as 130.

In the later part of the game, you’re not going to want to give up a turn of damage to use Abundant Harvest, which is why Exp. Share is a really important card in this deck. Use Abundant Harvest Turn 1 to get three Fighting in play Turn 2, get a Landorus or two on your bench with an Exp. Share attached and you can stretch your Energy drops enough to last through the game.

pokemon-paradijs.comI maxed out DCE for Mewtwo EX which I can use with PlusPower and Shaymin to revenge KO Mewtwo EXs (even if its only got two Energy attached). PlusPower also helps in other situations with Landorus, like putting Zekrom-EX and Regigigas-EX within 1HKO range. Because Exp. Share is a Tool card, I changed one of the Eviolite to a Defender. I did keep one Eviolite in the mix, though, in case a Pokémon on my bench is 10-20 damage away from death.

Apart from the key cards, most of the space has gone toward consistency. Any lower than 12 Fighting Energy makes a Turn 2 Gaia Hammer too difficult to pull off consistently. I run 4 Juniper, 3 Sage’s Training, 3 Junk Arm and 3 Pokégear 3.0 to get Fighting Energy in the discard pile when I need them.

I could probably get buy with just 4 Dual Balls, but I don’t want a stroke of bad luck to lead to myself getting donked, so I’ve got the 2 Pokémon Collector in there that can be fished out via Pokégear. I think 3 Pokémon Catcher is the perfect number; enough that I can “drag” Pokémon when I need to, but doesn’t steal any space that’s needed for consistency cards.

Overall, Landorus/Mewtwo EX has performed very well and has put up some really good numbers. The way I see it, Landorus/Mewtwo is sort of the next evolutionary step. Tetrakion is a strong deck that has a killer Zeels match up, but its lacking in other areas, like its CMT match up. Landorus/Mewtwo is a lot more balanced, having a much stronger CMT match up while still maintaining a good game against Zeels and Durant. Landorus/Mewtwo has a wider variety of even to strong match ups and has virtually no auto-losses, making it a safer and more consistent play.

ZPSM

Nowadays, all the Mewtwo EX-based attention is being directed at CMT. It’s fast, consistent and has good across-the-board match ups. But, if you remember back, another fast Mewtwo deck that was receiving a good mount of hype was ZPSTM aka Zekrom/Pachrisu/Shaymin/Tornadus/Mewtwo. But as time went on, all people saw in this deck were its flaws. Its virtually non-existent showing at the ECC and the rise of CMT sealed its fate as one of the many “tier 1 hype decks” that never became a reality.

For a long time, I was just one of the many people who had written it off. I was convinced that Celebi, because of its consistency and ease of use throughout the game, was strictly better. It wasn’t until quite recently that I began to see how strong Mewtwo EX and the ZPS engine could be.

Without further delay, the list:

Pokémon – 14

3 Zekrom BLW
3 Mewtwo-EX
1 Zekrom-EX
3 Shaymin UL
3 Pachirisu CL
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
1 Pokémon Collector
1 Sage’s Training

 

4 Dual Ball

4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Eviolite
3 Junk Arm
2 Level Ball
2 PlusPower
1 Super Scoop Up
1 Switch

Energy – 16

12 Lightning

4 Double Colorless

I’m sure everyone who played Pokémon in fall of 2011 at least dabbled in playing ZPST, and a ton of those concepts carried over here as well. For starters, our primary goals are speed and consistency. Every game, we need be able to hit fast, hard and early.

pokemon-paradijs.comSince we’re not bogged down to running Grass Energy, we get to run Zekrom alongside Mewtwo EX. Zekrom’s higher damage output means we can be even more aggressive in the early game as well as being able to better compete with stronger, main attackers as well.

This deck is really similar to CMT in terms of playstyle, advantages/disadvantages, etc. Instead of Celebi’s Forest Breath, you’ll be using Pachirisu and Shaymin. Like I said, consistency is really huge deal when it comes to these kinds of turbo decks. A Turn 1 start gives you a good shot at beating just about anything, but if you can’t get going by Turn 2, your chances plummet. So in light of that, I’ve included three copies of both Pachirisu and Shaymin, which helps increase the odds of drawing into them and/or my starting hand containing a copy.

If I haven’t made it clear by now, Mewtwo wars a huge part of this format, so I’ve included a third copy of Mewtwo EX. Not only is it a very open card in terms of which cards can accelerate Energy onto it, but it also gives me the leg up in the Mewtwo war. Normally, ZPS builds biggest weakness is that they can fade quite a bit in the late game, but if you get a Mewtwo war going, that doesn’t apply.

You only need a Basic Pokémon and roughly two Energy to collect two prizes, which is easy enough to get in play. One of this decks most successful tactics is to use this decks advantage in speed to pave the way for a favorable Mewtwo war. If you’re 2+ prizes ahead when it starts, whether or not you loose the first Mewtwo, as long as you can keep up with the exchanges (another reason why consistency is so vital), you can win the game.

Because of the advantage that a Turn 1 start can provide, I’ve all but killed the Pokémon Collector count in exchange for 4 Dual Ball and 2 Level Ball. Pokémon Collector is slightly more reliable, but since playing it means no PONT or Juniper during the same turn means you have access to less cards Turn 1/2. Overall, I think it’s a pretty favorable trade-off.

Even though you need to be able to break the 130 HP barrier in the Terrakion and Zeels match ups, I’ve still cut out a copy of PlusPower. Zeels doesn’t even fully focus on Zekrom anymore, but nonetheless, I also have Junk Arm for reusing PlusPower as well as Zekrom-EX. This is the most recent change I’ve made to the list (cutting a PlusPower for another Pokémon Catcher) and so far its been worth it, but I’d still like to get in a few more games against Tetrakion and Zeels, just to make sure this change works.

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the second deck in which I’ve run Tyrogue, with the first being Zeels. With Eelektrik and Mewtwo being the VIPs of the format, having a card that can donk a Tynamo, not to mention having a number of other uses, running it is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, while Zeels can run 3-4 other Pokémon with a Free Retreat cost, letting you use Tyrogue for just a KO and not the donk, this deck doesn’t have that luxury too much, so it is one of the more expendable cards in the list.

Note: To get the third PlusPower back in the list, almost for certain the card I’ll be cutting is Tyrogue, simply because it just isn’t as useful here. If I ultimately conclude another PlusPower IS needed, Tyrogue becomes the 61st card in the deck.

I’m running Zekrom-EX because of its strength in some less common but still present matchups such as TyRam (to 1HKO Typhlosion), EelZone and Chandelure as well as just offering another method besides PlusPower to break the 130 HP barrier.

Finally, this list also contains a Super Scoop Up. Again, even though its strength is completely reliant on a coin flip, it just serves so many helpful functions. It lets me reuse a Shaymin or Pachirisu, which is especially helpful if one or more is prized, can save a damaged Mewtwo EX/Zekrom-EX and acts as the 1 1/2 Switch as its also able to get an unwanted Pokémon out of the active.

ZPSM is even faster than CMT and can be even more aggressive in the early game with Turn 1 starts being even more common here than with Celebi. Also, Zekrom BW can dish out a lot more damage than Tornadus. If they start with a Zekrom-EX or Reshiram-EX and you manage to get a Turn 1 Tornadus up and running, you can’t even threaten the 2HKO without double PlusPower. Right now, CMT is the better play than ZPSM just because of its Tetrakion matchup, but in areas with a lower Fighting presence, this is going to be a really strong pick.

Conclusion

I’d like to take a second to congratulate those who got out last weekend and scored some Championship Points! It takes a lot of dedication to do well in even the smallest tournament, so if you went deep at your event, props to you.

For those of you who maybe didn’t do as well as you were hoping, don’t give up. No one hates the “get back on the horse” speech more than I do, but if you persevere and continue striving to learn and grow as a player, it won’t be a matter of “if,” but “when.”

A few weeks ago, Jay reminded me that I haven’t written up an introduction about myself and that it would be a good way to tell people a little about me, so see this link for my -autobiography.

Good luck at States!

-Dakota Streck
dakota@sixprizes.com


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