States/Regionals may be over for some of us, but for the rest of you, every new article brings a little more information to help you in your quest for a Worlds invite.
For my part, the journey is over. I attended three States using two different decks, earning a respectable eight Championship Points.
My first States was held in Malaysia, where I played an almost exact copy of the CMT build that won ECC, liking the impressive speed Tornadus EPO gave me without losing too much power in the Mewtwo war… not. Actually, my friend was just bugging me to use the build since I had already playtested with it the past two weeks instead of my pet deck. However, luck was not on my side, and I even made a horrendous misplay against a Truth deck to end up 3-3.
Back home in Singapore, I decided that because of the huge expected turnout, I could go easy with my deck choices and went back to my Durant deck. With a result of 4-2 (lost to Chandelure NVI and Durant/Scizor Prime), I whiffed Top 16 by resistance, but 70+ players and a position of 22 meant I still went home with two points.
I promised myself before the tournament that if I managed to break into Top 8, I would play a planned Reshiram rogue for the next States. That didn’t happened, so back to Durant it was for me.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis time, luck was on my side. I got into Top 8 with a score of 5-1, losing only to the mirror who topdecked a Junk Arm on his last turn, although I also had a near heart attack against a Chandelure NDE rogue where I barely won because I milled his last Switch. I lost against a CMT due to a prized Rotom UD in the Top 4 match, and ended up 3rd overall.
So that’s a brief review on my States outing. Now to the analysis.
In all three States, I saw a rather strong showing of Durants, all of differing builds and varying results. The conclusion may be obvious to some of you, but I just want to reiterate the fact that there is no such thing as a standard Durant deck.
Aside from the standard counts of Durant and Rotom, what makes each build different is what their secondary Pokémon is. Often, that secondary Pokémon is an attacker that grabs prizes. I heard from a friend that Canada saw a Durant build with a Mewtwo EX tech with two DCE, which was an idea I was already playing with weeks before States to shore up my CMT matchup.
The idea is simplicity at its best. CMT players often try to load up energy on Mewtwo ASAP to win the match. Mewtwo’s best counter is itself. Therefore, in response, the Durant player can play a Mewtwo in his/her own deck to counter their Mewtwo.
There are, of course, flaws in this idea. Starting with Mewtwo is worse than starting with Rotom, which is already a scary thought, because of its Retreat Cost and the fact that you are giving up two free prizes with it. The upside to this is that starting with Durant and a DCE in hand might just allow you to donk that solo Tynamo, Cleffa or Tyrogue. Maybe.
The traditional Cobalion NVI tech is still relevant in today’s meta because it is just that good against a loaded Mewtwo EX. Iron Breaker also shores up your match against a T2 Vileplume (except Chandelure decks), allowing you to not depend too much on Flower Shop Lady to win the match. And if Mewtwo EX already has a hard time dealing with one Cobalion, why not play two?
pokemon-paradijs.comThe third attacker I will mention is Shaymin EX, the hardest attacker to use because of its HP, specific energy requirement, and reliance on N to actually be viable. Shaymin is the only other EX that can 1-shot a Mewtwo EX if your opponent has taken 5 Prizes, which coincidentally also happens to be the best time to play down N. The problem then becomes how to power up Shaymin without your opponent Knocking it Out before you Knock Out their attacker.
Many players believe that it is simply a matter of milling away their Catchers and Knocking Out their main attacker. But that means you have to pray that they don’t have either Catcher OR Junk Arm, or a way to access either of them. Personally, I believe that Energy Switch is the best method to do this, even if it means having several card at hand at the same time.
Playing with attackers is risky because of the added risk of starting with it. Personally, I recommend playing at least one switch and one Baby Pokémon to reduce the chance of starting with your attacker.
The idea of using babies as support attackers has interested me ever since I started playing Durant. They have free retreat, and when asleep, are virtually invulnerable to whatever attacker your opponent is using. The most popular options are Mime Jr. CL, Smoochum HS, and Tyrogue HS.
Mime Jr. is by far one of the most popular choice because it supports the same strategy as Durant. Basically, it allows you to remain milling even without Durants or energy. And being able to send key cards to the Lost Zone like Super Rod is always a nice bonus.
Tyrogue is a newcomer to the scene, due to the popularity of Zeel and the drop in Kyurem NVI showings. The idea is that it allows you to get the occasional donk on anything with 30 HP, or 70 with Black Belt. One proposed idea against CMT is to hit Celebi for 30, then use Seeker on their lone Mewtwo on the bench for a really quick win. Personally though, I feel that this is too long a shot to happen; the CMT player will see the Seeker coming by a mile.
Smoochum is my personal favourite because of a famous Durant “counter”: play down two Pokémon on the bench to prevent Seeker shenanigans. It acts as an unlimited Energy Removal, removing as much energy as I can from their attacker to their useless Bench-sitter, often Cleffa or Eelektrik. While using Energy Antics denies you a turn of using Devour, it pays off in the long run when they either spend more resources to get their remaining energy and/or remain unable to attack for an extra turn or two.
Countering the Meta
CMT, Zeel and Terrakion are the most common decks you will see besides Durant itself, alongside the random Truth, Magnezone, and Mew Box decks. The key to winning the matchup is knowing how the decks will aim to counter yours and stopping it from happening. You may also need to tech your deck depending on your meta.
There are three general ways for them to play. The first is to power up Mewtwo EX with five energy and proceed to sweep. This is often done with Celebi Prime and switch plays, alongside Skyarrow Bridge. Having your own Mewtwo will turn the matchup vastly in your favour. Or you could just use Seeker if all they have is Celebi and Mewtwo, slowing them down drastically. Best followed with N on your next turn.
Another way to counter this is to simply snipe with Rotom twice. A minimum of two Prism Energy is needed in every Durant deck, but three is better if you expect to be doing this often. Also, Battle City helps prevent your catchers from turning into junk. Just remember to count their Skyarrow Bridges in their discard pile.
The second way is by using two Tornadus EPO and abusing Skyarrow Bridge to repeatedly hammer on your defences. Generally though, this is already a favourable setup for you; copious amounts of Eviolite and special metal, along with well-timed Crushing Hammers and Battle City, will slow them down tremendously.
The third way is by using Virizion NVI’s Leaf Wallop and Catchers. Generally, you will only encounter this situation if your opponent starts with Virizion. Like the Tornadus setup, eviolite and special metals will do you good. You can also mess around with them by using Rotom to threaten a KO and force them to drop more Pokémon, during which you can simply use Catcher to stop the Leaf Wallop.
Occasionally you will see the rare Regigigas-EX popping up. You don’t have to worry about it too much, as Giga Power’s damage output is similar to Tornadus and Virizion, and a powered Raging Hammer is easily threatened by Plasma Arrow. Not to mention that its Retreat Cost makes the perfect catcher bait if it accidentally falls on the bench.
I don’t care what everyone says, the Zeel matchup is so much in favour of the Durant player if both players are of equal skill, in my opinion. They have so many baits for Catcher, and Eelektrik cannot power up their attacker in the Active Spot.
amity-square.deviantart.comThe ideal setup is to start with Thundurus EPO and use Charge, slowly transitioning to Zekrom mid-game, playing down the eels as and when they are needed. The problem is that Thundurus, like Tornadus, cannot KO an Eviolited Durant without help, and both Zekrom and Eelektrik have relatively heavy Retreat Costs.
Again, a well-timed N and Catcher on an empty Zekrom/Eelektrik provides a good enough stall for you to burn their resources. Smoochum is especially boss here, moving energy to Eelektrik until they don’t even have enough energy in the discard pile for Dynamotor.
The newer strategy is to use Zebstrika NXD to lock out your Revives. The strategy here is relatively simple, but hard to pull off. You need to sacrifice a prize pronto, then use Twins to get out as many Eviolites and special metal as you can. They cannot do much damage without breaking the lock, and they only have so many Catchers and Junk Arms at hand. If you expect heavy Zebstrikas, play FSL and a couple of Rescue Energy.
Terrakion NVI cannot 1HKO a fully armoured Durant. If they attempt to load more than three energy on Terrakion, a single Plasma Arrow will force them to drop another Pokémon, most probably another Terrakion, and you can proceed to use Catcher and Hammers to stall them out.
Mew Box Variants
They will use Crobat Prime most of the time, and Yanmega Prime where possible. Your Catchers are useless; use them as Junk Arm fodder for Hammers, and use Super Rod to get back your Basic Metals to help you retreat every turn against the poison. Remember to sacrifice an already damaged Durant early to activate Twins to access your energy. Against Yanmega, N is your best friend.
The other See-Off target is Jumpluff HS. Often used if Rotom is played for a minimum of 110 damage. While this won’t KO a fully armoured Durant, Mass Attack is a very cheap attack, making it far more dangerous than Terrakion. Removals are your only hope against the onslaught, so save those Junk Arms for Lost Remover.
Word on the street is that the first to use Devour wins, with lots of luck. Sorry guys, but that’s not how it works. The Durant mirror requires so much skill and counting of cards that it gets stressful pretty quickly.
Your best weapon against the mirror is N. Neither of you will be taking prizes, but you will still be playing your disruption. Therefore, you hand count drops below six pretty often. What N does is to add cards into your opponent’s hand as much as it does yours, effectively speeding up the mill. To counter this, simply try not to reduce your hand below six as far as possible.
Additionally, every time you refresh your hand with a Supporter, take note of how many extra cards you are drawing. The more cards you are drawing compared to your opponent, the faster you will be on the track to losing.
The play of Catchers and Hammers get slightly more complicated. On average, a Durant build will have 10-11 energy cards total they can use. You cannot simply drop every energy that comes into your hand, because our opponent may use Catcher on you and you are stuck without another energy to power up the active Durant. Likewise, if you can spare the energy, drop as many as you can for insurance against Catcher, but always have one in your hand.
The ideal hand against the mirror is as follows: Junk Arm, Metal or Prism Energy, and a hand refresher. Similarly, these cards are the same ones you need to keep track off in both players’ discard pile. Beware the unexpected Super Rod or Junk Arm that will throw your math off-balance.
Lastly, always keep track of the deck size for both you and your opponent. No matter how conservatively you play, you might have unconsciously used more cards than your opponent, and knowing the exact difference will help you plan your moves much better.
So I heard you like decklists. So here’s mine:
Pokémon – 6
1 Rotom UD
Trainers – 41
4 Junk Arm
3 Pokégear 3.0
Energy – 13
5 M – Basic
4 Metal – Special