needlepointhi.comI want to start this article off by saying thank you to all of the readers here at SixPrizes. After winning Iowa States a few short weeks ago I was able to secure 51 Championship Points, which should be enough to guarantee me the Worlds invite. Hopefully I’ll be able to pad this number a bit more heading into Nationals, but I’m feeling pretty confident about the invite right now.
At the start of the season I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to attend Worlds this year, regardless if I had the invite or not. This year though you have all given my articles a great amount of support which has allowed me to set money aside, making attending Worlds very realistic possibility.
Just under 2 years ago, the best vacation I’d ever been on came to an end, and I left one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life (Hawaii). I made myself a promise I would make it back one day; I just never thought it would be this soon. For this I do truly want to say thank you. Moving forward though the deal I would like to make with all of you is I’ll do my best to keep turning out top quality content if you’ll support the articles.
Back to business though, and before I jump into talking about my States and Regionals experience, I want to take a look at one of my old favorite decks. As most of you know, each month I like to take a look at a less than standard deck. After hearing how Emboar/Magnezone won a State Championship, I knew I wanted to cover it briefly.
Now, I still consider this a tier 2 deck and can’t really recommend playing it in any major tournament. Rather than try and hype the deck up, I wanted to take a look at the deck’s strengths and some important things to keep in mind when playing against it. First though, let’s take a look at my newly updated Emboar/Magnezone list.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 29
Energy – 14
pokemon-paradijs.comIn the current format, I feel like the deck’s strongest ability is to steal games with Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND. If RDL KOs an EX, it will take 3 Prizes, which means over the course of a game a Magneboar player only has to take 2 legitimate knockouts. With EXs seeing playing in nearly every deck, this isn’t a hard game scenario to set up.
While I feel the Supporter lineup is extremely basic/standard, the tech section is where we really set up the game plan. The full 4 Junk Arm allows us to get away with only playing 1 copy of the rest of our techs. Going along with this, 1 copy of both PlusPower and Pokémon Catcher allow us to set up those crucial EX kills. Normally I don’t like playing a whole bunch of 1’s in the Trainer line up, but Twins allows us to get away with this.
When playing the deck, it’s important to feel comfortable from playing from behind. Your strategy should be just to get an early Pichu off and once your opponent takes the first prize, simply start setting up using both Twins and Magnezone. Once you start trading prizes with your opponent, look to set up that huge RDL to steal the game. Originally I didn’t have Mewtwo EX in my list, but I quickly realized how good it was at baiting your opponent into dropping their Mewtwo EX.
As for playing against the deck, it’s important to understand its strategy. It might seem like a good idea to focus on stealing cheap prizes, but thanks to RDL they’ll most likely win out in the end if you go this route. You will also eventually run into the situation where your opponent simply does not have any cheap prizes left for you to steal.
The other common strategy is to go after the Magnezone Prime, as after all, this is both your opponent’s draw power and one of their heavy hitters. The problem with this is Magnezone might be the one putting pressure on you, but it’s not the real problem. The real lynchpin of the deck is the Emboar.
It’s important to just keep going after their Tepigs. Depending on the game situation, even if my opponent already has an Emboar in play, I’ll continue to go after the Tepigs. Normally they are very easy to knockout and it’s far easier for my opponent to find a Rare Candy and Emboar (especially playing 4 Twins) than it is for me to KO Emboars consistently.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe big thing to never forget is that RDL will hit Mewtwo EX for X2 damage thanks to weakness. Mewtwo is a horrible attacker in this matchup, and you normally don’t even want to bench one. Also RDL does take a lot of work to set up, especially in 1 turn, and sometimes playing N multiple turns in a row can help disrupt your opponent from getting it.
The deck is more competitive than you think it would be and is definitely capable of beating the top tier decks. However, I still consider it a tier 2 deck and feel like that unless your opponent walks into the 3 Prize steal, you could have a tough game. It’s still going to remain one of my favorite decks though and now thanks to EXs, it’s been updated with a bit of twist.
It wasn’t until after I won Wisconsin that I really realized just how close a Worlds invite was for me. A decent showing in Iowa meant I could make a run for the Worlds invite, regardless of how I did at Regionals. While I certainly did not want to do bad at Regionals, I didn’t want to be put in a position where my invite rested on 1 tournament.
I’ll admit heading into the weekend I was nervous about a tournament for the first time in a long time. I felt like I had a strong chance, but sometimes it’s a lot harder being the favorite not wanting to blow it than the underdog looking for an upset.
My brother and I showed up with the exact same Zekrom/Eelektrik deck that I had played in Wisconsin the week before. I knew to expect a lot of hate for the deck, but when we showed up there was a ton of Terrakion. I saw at least 5 and figured that there was probably more. I made the last minute call of dropping the Level Ball for an Eviolite.
I would have liked a second copy, but without testing I wasn’t willing to make that switch. This was actually a really tough call for me because I hate dropping consistency cards for tech cards, but Eviolite really has a huge impact on the match up. Just for a refresher, here is another look at the list we played.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
Here is how my Swiss rounds went:
Round 1: Durant (Win)
Round 2: Zekrom/Eelektrik (Win)
Round 3: My Brother – Zekrom/Eelektrik (Win)
Round 4: Emboar/Reshiram (Win)
Round 5: Zekrom/Eelektrik (Win)
Round 6: Zerkom/Eelektrik (Win)
Here are my brother’s Swiss rounds:
Round 1: Kyurem/Feraligatr/Vileplume (Win)
Round 2: Random (kid was really new) (Win)
Round 3: Me – Zekrom/Eelektrik (Loss)
Round 4: Zekrom/Eelektrik (Win)
Round 5: Zekrom/Eelektrik (Win)
Round 6: Zekrom/Eelektrik (Loss/Donked)
I was pretty bummed that my little brother got donked the last round because I knew his tiebreakers weren’t that good from the first two rounds. The player that donked him was Isaiah, who I met earlier this year. He’s a really good player and knew the matchup well, so I won’t hate. I won my last round pretty easily and I hoped it would be enough to get him in the top 8.
Here is how the Top 8 broke down:
Zekrom/Eelektrik (My brother)
I was pretty disappointed that I had to play my brother in Top 8, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.
Both games went really quickly and I won the match 2-0, but I knew my little brother went easy on me. He made some mistakes in both games I knew he usually wouldn’t have made, and kind of smiled a bit when he did them. It was a pretty bittersweet game.
Top 4: Zekrom/Eelektrik
The guy was really new and hadn’t played in very many tournaments. His list looked pretty standard, but I did know a couple of things from our Swiss games. He played at least 2 Eviolite and 2 Zekrom-EX, and while neither of these things changed my game plan, it was helpful to be aware of them going in.
Game 1: I think our starts were pretty close; I was simply able to make better tradeoffs. When the Mewtwo war started, I was in a much better position in the Prize tradeoff and took the game.
Game 2: I start a lone Tynamo and he goes for the donk by benching Mewtwo EX. He whiffs on it though and we’re back to playing a pretty standard game. He does get a turn 1 Thundurus off and Catcher/KOs my Smeargle. Normally this isn’t a very big deal, as after all I run 3 and it’s just a Collector away.
This time though it actually put me in a tough spot due to my Supporter-dry hand. It’s not a play I would normally recommend making, but he took a gamble and it really paid off for him in this situation.
The game continues and I play a mid game N looking for a new hand, but I must have cut him just perfect because he didn’t get a Supporter. I didn’t exactly realize how weak his hand was until he whiffed on a Pokégear 3.0 and simply passed.
Over the next few turns I basically played clean up on some of his weaker Pokémon. I think he might have top decked an Oak, but it was when I had 1 or 2 Prizes left and was pretty well set up.
pokemon-paradijs.comThankfully a friend of mine had played him in Swiss, so I knew most of his surprises before we sat down at the table. Starting off I knew he played 3 Mewtwo EX and 0 Tornadus. Knowing that he had to go agro Mewtwo EX in this matchup, I felt would give me the edge.
I also knew though that he played 1 Regigigas-EX in his deck. I hadn’t tested against it, so I wasn’t sure how it would impact the matchup. I was hoping as an EX I could simply just trade 2 for 2 with it, and the matchup would revert to me have the edge in the Mewtwo wars.
Game 1: He gets a Turn 1 Mewtwo EX off, but I don’t believe he got a Knock Out with it. The next few turns were us trading Mewtwos back and forth with me coming out ahead in the exchange.
Game 2: He got the Turn 1 Mewtwo EX off again, but again didn’t get a prize with it. This game was a bit different due to the fact early to mid game we were both Supporter dry, but we both drew out of it. We once again we get into the Mewtwo slug fest, but I once again narrowly come out on top 0-1.
I really wish there were more details to give, but both games were either him or myself starting off swinging with Mewtwo EXs. In the end this made for some pretty short games that I came out on the better side of.
I realized about half way through that game just how big of a deal winning it would be for me. It would basically lock up a Worlds invite for me, and another $300 to go to Nationals was nothing small either. My opponent was really friendly and was a great guy before and after the game.
Some friends and I went and grilled hamburgers and hotdogs afterward. I was barely conscious due to lack of sleep, but it was a great time. I really enjoy playing in highly competitive tournaments like States, but at the same time it’s also really nice when they’re over and you can relax.
I have about a little over a month left of classes, so it’s really nice to be able to focus on finishing the semester strong and not have to spend a ton of time worrying about the invite.
sbnation.comAfter my run at States I knew I was going to play Zerkom/Eelektrik at Regionals. If you’re running really hot with a deck, unless you’re making a huge metagame call, it’s normally a bad idea to turn your back on it. I can stand doing badly with a deck I feel I know in and out, rather than playing something that seems good and I don’t know nearly as well.
Heading into Regionals though I knew that I just couldn’t keep taking a near auto-loss to Durant. I also knew that I really got some lucky breaks against Terrakion and that I really needed to improve this matchup as well as test it more before the tournament. With all of this in mind, here is the list I end up playing at the Wisconsin Regionals.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
I really didn’t feel like any of the switches I made dramatically affected the deck or how it played. I did make quite a few of them though, so I do want to quickly run through what I switched around and my thoughts behind it.
4 Sages to 4 PONT: This was strictly because of Durant; the extra discarding with Sage’s Training is just too much to overcome in that matchup. The deck plays very differently with PONT; I won’t say bad, just different. There are some situations when I want Sages, and other when I want PONT. Overall with this meta though, I feel like PONT was the better choice.
1 Collector to 1 Level Ball: Dropping the Level Ball in Iowa was a really bad call on my part and I’m very glad I didn’t get punished for it. This is also another reason I normally don’t recommended making switches to your deck as you’re waiting in line to register for the tournament.
I dropped the Collector because Collector is really slow, and outside of the opening hand, I would almost always rather have Level Ball. I was also thinking I wasn’t really dropping a consistency card, mainly just switching 1 consistency card for another. I know 3 Collector looks really bad on paper, but it plays just fine.
1 Smeargle to 1 Tornadus: This was a really hard switch for me since I hate dropping consistency cards, but the bottom line was outside of the increase chance of opening with it you don’t need 3 Smeargle. I added the Torndaus to help against Donphan Prime, Terrakion, and Troll. In testing I was pleasantly surprised to find it was an amazing universal attacker as well.
What made it so strong is it gave me a non-EX attacker that could attack for 2 energy (1 Lightning and 1 DCE). This made setting it up very easy, and in some games allowed me to put very early pressure on the opponent. I won’t say it swung the Fighting decks in my favor, but it really helped even up the matchups.
The Friday night before Regionals I tested the Troll matchup with Mike Lesky an awful lot and we were right around 50-50 with each other, and the winner was normally decided on who drew better off N. Mike ended up going 8-2 and finishing in the Top 16, so I feel pretty good about these testing results.
As for the tournament itself, I really wish I had better tournament results to share with you, but my luck really ran out. I suppose I can’t just brag when I win, so I’ll break the tournament down.
Round 1: Win – Zekrom/Eelektrik
Round 2: Win – Donphan/Dragons
Round 3: Win – Durant
Round 4: Loss – CMT
Round 5: Loss – Durant
Round 6: Loss – Zekrom/Eelektrik
Round 7: Win – Durant
Round 8: Win/Disqualification – Durant
I won’t even begin to tell you how it feels to go to lunch at 3-0 only to come back and drop 3 straight games. I don’t feel like I was ever cocky at any point, but it just goes to show how important it is to not get ahead of yourself like I discussed in my last article.
I think it’s just so important to be honest with yourself when looking back on a tournament and not make excuses. Going along with this is really understanding the difference between luck and skill. I certainly had some bad luck only going first 2 out of 8 rounds (round 2 and round 6), but it happens.
The thing that bothered me the most about this tournament was how often I felt like I opened “dead.” In rounds 1 and 4 I opened lone Zekorm EX with no Supporters. Thankfully both times I was able to draw out of it, but it still really worried me about the list.
Whenever I see a tournament report and long wall of text I’ll normally skim more than I’ll actually read it. So instead of giving a full tournament report, I’m going to focus more on the 3 games I lost. I think this is gives a lot more insight into myself and playing the deck. I’ll give all of the details and where I was coming from, and in the end you can decide if you think I made wrong calls or if I made the right calls and just got the short end.
Round 4: CMT w/ Yoshi
pokemon-paradijs.comI want to start out by saying that I have nothing but respect for Yoshi; he is by far one of the coolest guys at these events. The game starts off pretty badly for me starting lone Zekrom-EX with no Supporters going second. Thankfully he can’t put a ton of early pressure on me and my Eviolite stops him from hurting me much with Tyrogue.
I believe I eventually topdeck a Level Ball which I use to grab Smeargle and use Switch, nailing a PONT. The game plays out pretty standard from that point for both of us. I started really bad, but thanks to his slower start he didn’t make me pay for it.
The turning point in the game is when I have to make a key Pokémon Catcher decision. I know that he plays 2 Terrakion and I assume 2 F Energy. I’ll be honest and admit I played badly and didn’t realize both Terrakion were in his discard pile (a major misplay on my part). I KO’d one and I thought the other was in the deck. Apparently he discarded it off a Junk Arm or Juniper earlier in the game and I didn’t catch it.
I face the decision where I can either KO a Celebi Prime, Smeargle, or a Tornadus with 2 Grass. The Tornadus couldn’t KO me next turn and I figured Celebi Primes were a dime a dozen, so I Catchered the Smeargle, feeling I made the stronger long game play.
It was also a gamble what would be more likely to get him the Terrakion and I felt like it was the 2 Supporters (I was holding PONT and Juniper). On his turn he had the Super Rod to put back the 2 Terrakion and a F Energy. He proceeds to Juniper into the Terrakion, G Energy, and Junk Arm for the Energy Search in his discard pile.
At first I was rather upset about this, but looking back he had a considerable amount of outs to this scenario with Dual Balls and other such cards. Perhaps had I gone after the Celebi Prime he wouldn’t have been able to get the Terrakion off, but looking over the situations I’ll stick with the call I made.
Had I known that the 2nd Terrakion was in the discard I would have gone after the Smeargle without thinking twice not knowing he had the Super Rod in hand. This made me feel better about making the play I did despite how the game ended up.
Round 5: Durant
pokemon-paradijs.comThe next loss was against Durant where I opened with double Smeargle going second. Ironically this is one of the better hands I had gotten all day… just not against Durant. He goes first and I cry a little on the inside seeing him play Pokémon Collector for 3 more Durant. I didn’t have my own Collector, so I would have loved to have played his. He gets a few good mills off before I start attacking, but not many.
I get Zekrom BLW which took 3 straight prizes I believe. On his turn he gets heads with Xtransceiver for Twins and proceeds to Rotom UD/Prism Energy me. I didn’t have anything to deal with the Rotom and I don’t remember why. I make 1 misplay I remember where he uses Pokémon Catcher to bring an Eelektrik active with 1 energy on it. I didn’t have many card in my deck, and I was powering up an attacker on the bench.
I should have simply used Shaymin UL to move the energy to Eelektrik and started hitting him. I realized this a turn late though, so I was 1 turn behind on killing his active Durant. I don’t believe this was huge though because I didn’t have a way to 1HKO his other Durant.
After the game I was rather upset that he had gone 2/2 on his Xtransceivers, both times grabbing Twins setting up huge game states for himself, one of which was the major KO on the Zekrom. He had very small hands both times so I felt like these were huge coin flips. I asked him afterward if he another Supporter in his hand and he said both times he did, they were just less useful ones like Copycat.
As I’m writing this it bothers me less that he got the 2 heads and more that I don’t know how big of a deal they were… maybe these were game winning coin flips, or perhaps they meant nothing and he would have won regardless.
There were also some factors outside of the game I could have controlled as well. The list I played for the weekend only ran 1 copy of both Zekrom BLW and Thundurus. Second copies of both of these cards could dramatically help to shift my Durant match more positively.
Round 6: Zekrom/Eelektrik
pokemon-paradijs.comThe last loss came in the 6th round where my opponent and I both open with lone Tynamo. I had the 40 HP Tynamo whereas he had the 30 HP Tynamo active. I didn’t play Tyrogue CL, so this didn’t matter a ton that it only had 30 HP. I went first and had a Juniper along with DCE, Switch, and Eviolite. I realize at this point had I left that Eviolite as a Collector I would have just won with Mewtwo EX which caused me to smile on the inside a bit.
I attach the Eviolite and Juniper, hitting another DCE and Switch in my first 4 cards. I was hopeful, but didn’t hit the Mewtwo EX. I attach a Lightning and use Thunder Wave, flipping heads. This was a huge misplay on my part, as it is near impossible for a Zekrom/Eelektrik deck to do 60 damage on their first turn of the game. By attaching that energy I just opened myself back up to a KO by Mewtwo EX/DCE. On his turn he goes Pachy, Self-Generation, attaches 2 L Energy, PlusPower, than plays PONT.
Now I really don’t want to sound bitter here, but for this game state to happen out of 8 cards he needs to open with: a Basic that’s not Pachy, 2 L Energy, Pachirisu CL, PlusPower, Supporter. So he’s shuffling and I’m thinking okay, he put a lot of resources into this play, and he still has to hit 1-of his 2 Switches out of 52 cards (remember his prizes count since he could have prized one or even both copies). I cut and he draws slapping a Switch down on the table. I honestly couldn’t help but smile as I sign the match slip and walk off.
pokemon-paradijs.comI felt all of this was highly unlikely, but it happens. To be fair I also should point out the only reason he needed to pull off the huge succession of cards is due to the fact that I won the opening coin flip. Had I lost the opening coin flip he had a whole host of options to KO my 40 HP Tynamo.
Despite Terrakion variants being very popular on the weekend I never played one once, so it’s very easy for me to say how bad Eviolite was for me. I feel like it was just more a case of it was bad for me in this one situation rather than a bad card for the deck.
In the end I finish 5-3 and I’m a little bitter over the whole thing, but hey it’s a card game and stuff happens. I still had an unbelievable weekend with friends and redeemed myself a bit by winning 2 box tournaments and pulling a FA Mewtwo EX. I really hope I didn’t come across as too bitter; it’s always easier to look at the stuff that went against you in a loss than the stuff that went your way in a win. I have gotten more than my fair share of luck over the years so I really can’t cry when I get the short end.
No matter who you are, how long you’ve been playing, or how good of a player you are your going to hit a rough tournament. This isn’t just in Pokémon, but many other aspects of life as well. There is nothing you can do, but try and learn from your losses and move on. The little bit of a break between Regionals and Battler Roads is really good for me. It will give me time to finish up my semester and really come into Battle Roads ready to compete.
At first I was actually pretty worried when I saw Fulop was going to talk about how to play Zekrom/Eelektrik. I’m not saying it’s “my deck,” but I do feel since I’m the only Underground writer to put up actual tournament results with the deck, it is topic I felt very knowledgeable about and really wanted to cover. I was actually pretty relieved when I read Fulop’s article and saw that he went in a completely different direction than I want to go.
While I do feel that looking at individual games can offer some strong insight, I simply don’t feel it’s the best way to approach the issue. Looking at individual games allows you to see what call you would make in a particular situation, but not how you approach matchups in general. I find knowing how to play the matchup is far more beneficial than seeing what call a player would make in situation D after A, B, and C have already happened.
So what I plan on doing is talking about how I tackle individual matchups and the strategies I go into them with. I find having a game plan heading into match up really helps me play the match up better. I also find it makes me more relaxed and confident since it’s “nothing new.” First though I wanted to talk about some general things that apply to Zekrom/Eelektrik regardless of the matchup.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe first is simply how important it is to know what your opponent is playing and general important numbers. There are really two ways you should be tackling this issue. You should always have a general idea what the main decks in the format look like, and approximate count on their numbers. Does the deck normally play Lost Remover? How many Pokémon Catcher does the deck play? Etcetera.
This is going to completely determine how you play against the deck. Leaving a naked Double Colorless Energy on the field is pretty safe against Zekrom/Eelektrik, but can be a very bad play against Terrakion. Make sure you don’t get overly caught up in stock lists though; just because most versions only play 3 Catcher doesn’t mean your opponent isn’t playing 4.
The second is do your best to find out what your opponent is playing before you sit down at the table. This isn’t always possible in the early rounds of Swiss, but as the tournament progress it gets much easier. Once top cut starts, finding out what somebody is playing and their techs should be a pretty easy task.
I will stress though do not be “that guy” that runs around very openly acting like an idiot asking everybody he see what player X is running. Don’t be “that guy,” because nobody likes “that guy.” Often you can easily come by this information by asking some discreet questions. Or simply have you and your friends look out for each other’s opponents is generally the best approach.
This is such vital information because it can completely determine how you play your opening hand. Opening lone Celebi Prime is a very safe play against Durant, because of the practically zero percent chance of them being able to turn 1 you. However, in a CMT mirror starting lone Celebi Prime is not a very safe play at all. When we playtest we’ll play Game 1 like we have no idea what the other person is playing, then in Games 2/3 we’ll open like we know.
This is a really good thing to practice because it helps you get better at knowing how to open in general and against a certain deck. Pay attention to how differently you find yourself opening based on what you’re playing against and I think you may be surprised.
pokemon-paradijs.comDurant can be a really tough matchup from the standpoint if you open badly you could lose the game before you even start. Your absolute best starter is going to be Thundurus. Solid starters would be basically anything with free retreat. I rank Zekrom BLW right behind these other openers, mainly because he won’t really do anything until turn 3 at the earliest.
Starting with anything else is simply not ideal, even if you manage to get it out of the Active Spot your opponent can just repeatedly Catcher it up. This is why Mewtwo EX is by far one of your worst starters unless you have a handful of energy. You are realistically looking at 4 or 5 energy to KO a Durant. This is a much tougher task to accomplish than it sounds due to Crushing Hammer and Lost Remover.
Small note I would like to mention is that with some Durant decks teching in Mewtwo EX, they run anywhere from 1-2 Double Colorless Energy. Durant’s second attack hits for 30 damage for CC, which makes starting lone Tynamo, Cleffa, or Tyrogue possibly very dangerous. However benching a second less ideal Pokémon like Mewtwo EX might just cost you the game in the long run anyway, so often it’s better to just take the gamble.
Back to the matchup though, ideally you either start Thundurus or you get it in the Active Spot and get a turn 1 Charge off. This puts your opponent in a tough position because even if they get heads on a Crushing Hammer it only sets you back one turn and you simply use Charge again. In the end it will do nothing to deal with the actual threat of Thundurus.
When I’m attacking with Thundurus, it’s very important I take a prize every turn. If my opponent is able to set up a Durant that I can’t deal with due to Eviolite or Special Metal, I’ll simply Catcher around it and score KOs that way. For my opponent, Durants are a dime a dozen, and if I take 2 turns to KO a Durant with Eviolite and a Special Metal they’ll simply send up another one and do the exact same thing. I don’t want to invest a ton of resources in KOing these tanked Durants when Zekrom BLW will simply do it later in the game with far less effort.
pokemon-paradijs.comI like to use Thundurus to take the first 2-3 Prizes and then I transition into Zekrom BLW. Zekrom himself should take at least 2 Prizes before he is within range of a Rotom KO. Even if they manage to KO your Zekrom with Rotom, it’s normally not that big of a deal. First it’s one turn they’re not using Devour, and even with an Eviolite Rotom only has 80 HP which should be an easy KO by Thundurus, Tornadus, or a whole host of other attackers you run.
I usually only set up only 1 Eelektrik, but I have set up 2 depending on my board position. Normally though I simply find the second one unnecessary and with 2 it’s easier for my opponent to find himself in a position where he can “lock” one active. The first Dynamotor should always go under Eelektrik himself to avoid this Catcher lock. After that the Dynamotors should either go under Eelektrik or Zekrom BLW.
Early in the game it’s less of an issue to get that second energy under Eelektrik because even after an N, you’re still left with plenty of ways to get a Catchered Eelektrik out of the Active Spot (Switch, Junk Arm, DCE, draw Supporters). Later in the game, an N to just 1 or 2 cards could not always yield the same results.
Once you feel you have a strong grasp on the game, try to just hold a copy of N and do your best not to play any other cards. The N is your trump card because if you have a good enough grasp on the field, the only way you should lose is if your opponent mills you out before you take your 6 Prizes. Holding this copy of N and building your hand back up allows you to play it late game. This should put you at a very small hand and a slightly larger size deck. Hopefully this buys you a turn or perhaps two turns of mills if you’re lucky.
The matchup takes a bit of practice, but I’ve found going into it with this strategy gets the best results. The two biggest things in my opinion are take early prizes and do your best to avoid putting yourself in a position where your opponent can Catcher lock you.
How you build your deck heading into the tournament also has a considerable impact on the matchup. My matchup against Durant was absolutely horrible at my first States, but the matchup improved little by little as I made some changes in my list.
- Early Thundurus
- Transition into Zekrom
- Don’t discard from your deck if possible
- Be ready for N
- Don’t leave yourself open to be “locked”
– The first chance I get I usually like to fetch my Zekroms and Shaymin out of my deck. I don’t always bench them, but they are too valuable in this matchup to have your opponent hit them off of a lucky Devour.
– Avoid playing discard Supporters if at all possible, like Juniper or Sages. However, if your options are to not play the Supporter or not take a prize that turn, play the Supporter. In the end, sitting and doing nothing will lose you the game anyway, so go ahead and take the gamble with the Supporter.
Against Celebi/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus
pokemon-paradijs.comThe scariest part of this matchup is in the first few turns of the game. This is where they are the strongest and you are the weakest. They have a lot of speeding come out of the gate while you’re struggling to set up. A lot of the time CMT relies on early aggression to gain a prize lead. However, the longer the game goes on, the stronger you get while the weaker they get.
Your best opener in this matchup really depends on the hand and if you’re going first or not. Normally I don’t want to give them any prize on the first turn if I can avoid it. Being down a prize before you even get to draw is not a position I want to be in against CMT. If you go first, Thundurus is by far your best opener; going second it’s probably your worst. It’s so important to get that Charge off before they get a chance to hit you.
If I have a way to get it out of the Active Spot, Zekrom BLW is your best starter going second. It really makes it hard for them to put any really aggression against you knowing you’re 1 DCE away from a counter KO. A side from those two, basically anything with over 100 HP and isn’t an EX, like Tornadus, is a solid opener.
In my experience I have found that if you manage to set up before they get a huge prize lead on you, your most likely going to win. This is why in the early game I prefer to favor Thundurus. Not only will Thundurus fill the discard pile with L Energy, but it puts a large threat on the board they are forced to deal with. If they go aggro with Tornadus, you will KO at least 1 Tornadus before they KO you.
This is a very good tradeoff for you resource-wise since you devote very little to Thundurus and they devote much more to the Tornadus. If they try to answer you with Mewtwo EX, this puts them on the losing end of the Mewtwo war. Either way though, this forces them to deal with the Thundurus rather than going after your Tynamos.
I also need to stress just how important it is to bench at least 2 Tynamos at once in this matchup (and honestly in any matchup). Benching them one at time (I apologize for this bad joke) is like shooting fish in a barrel for your opponent.
pokemon-paradijs.comIn the mid game when you finally are setting up and have a bit of board position is when you want to start playing N. A lot of people want to wait until late in the game, but if you wait too long then they are really able to ready their board for that late game N.
When you N them in the mid game, it’s less about hoping to “catch them” and more about just trying to get them off balance. Good N’s should put your opponent in a position where they are just trying to survive that next turn. Not to mention even 3-4 cards really isn’t that much.
Going along with the N’s, the mid game is also where I’m really focusing on going after their energy drops. The deck can struggle with setting up multiple attackers at once and have a limited amounts of DCEs and sometimes even just G Energy. Scoring KOs on Pokémon they’ve invested multiple attachments on can really set them back, as well as make the end game a lot easier.
CMT just has so many ways to steal prizes it becomes so important that you don’t let them get down to that last prize. Also try to limit how many “easy” prizes you leave for them on the board. Ideally you can get yourself into a situation where they need both a Catcher and a PlusPower to steal the game.
- Go Thundurus if you go 1st; Zekrom BLW or Tornadus if you go 2nd
- Target energy attachments
- Smart N’s mid/late game
- Avoid giving them cheap prizes
- Avoid putting yourself in the situation where they can simply Catcher around your main attackers for their remaining prizes. You want to force them to deal with the threats you put in front of them.
- 2nd Thundurus
- More Zekrom BLW
- 4th Tynamo
Landorus NVI/Terrakion NVI/Mewtwo EXAgainst Straight Terrakion or
pokemon-paradijs.comWhile these two decks are very different, there is enough of an overlap I’m going to write this section together. Instead of waiting until the end to talk about possible techs I’m just going to do it now. This deck was basically made to beat Zekrom/Eelektrik without folding to rest of the field and honestly it does a pretty good job at it.
If you run 2 Tornadus and 2 Eviolite this matchup becomes considerably easier. I’m not trying by any means to call this matchup favorable. Regardless of how you tech for this deck, you’ll probably not get a matchup much better than 50-50.
Both variations of the deck open rather slowly and outside of a lucky Mewtwo EX/DCE really can’t do anything on the first turn. This is honestly probably your biggest advantage in the matchup. If you go first, you’re looking at a full 2 and possibly 3 turns before they are able to really put any actual aggression on the board.
Even in the above situation this puts them in the awkward spot of being behind in the Mewtwo wars. It’s far easier for you to respond with a Mewtwo EX than it is for them.
I talked about this in my last article, but I really want to recap just how important it is not to bench those Tynamos on your first turn if you go second against straight Terrakion. Since they max out at 30 damage on their second turn, the only way they’ll be able to get a prize is if they can Catcher/KO a Tynamo. Otherwise they just simply max out at 30 damage for the turn. Not giving up these cheap prizes early is a major factor against Terrakion.
The same does not hold true for the Troll variation of the deck. They normally run Tyrogue which opens them up to these KOs regardless, or they have the more risky play of attacking with Mewtwo EX. Against Troll it’s far more important to be able to read just how likely you feel this situation is, and how badly you can punish them if they do go aggressive with Mewtwo EX or Tyrogue. The fact of the matter is you have to bench these Tynamos regardless; it’s just deciding on when the safest time to do so is.
The big thing about winning this matchup is to get ahead of them on the energy drops. This means putting a lot of pressure on them early. Starting with anything that will let you do that such as Mewtwo EX or in some cases even Thundurus is preferable. I find that it’s a lot easier to do this against straight Terrakion since I always know what all of their options are.
pokemon-paradijs.comAgainst Troll on the other hand, if I start loading a ton of energy on a Mewtwo EX, I know that they will have a response. Many times this is simply unavoidable though and it’s mainly just trying to make sure I have a response to their Mewtwo EX.
If you are playing the version with 2 Tornadus and 2 Eviolite, then your best option is to be aggressive with them. While setting up Eelektriks on the bench, this allows for you later in the game to get 1HKOs with Zekroms and makes your Tornadus less weak to Lost Remover. They most likely won’t play down their Mewtwo EX, but be ready in case they do. Going with this strategy along with some key mid/late game N’s and you have a much easier match up than a standard Eelektrik deck would.
For a more standard version, you really have to go aggressive with Mewtwo EX and really hope for the best. You want to try and get to the point where you have enough energy on a Mewtwo EX that you can 1HKO whatever your opponent has. This strategy combined with smart N’s is your best bet, but I’ll be honest: this matchup is incredibly hard without the 2 Tornadus and the Troll matchup is much worse.
Against Zekrom/Eelektrik Mirror
cardshark.comI’ve saved the best for last, and I’m sure your expecting my top secret strategy on how to beat mirror. The honest truth is… there isn’t one big secret because mirror plays out differently every time. However, there are quite a few things I keep in mind that I feel give me an advantage over the competition.
The biggest thing about winning mirror is honestly playing a very consistent list. Being the first one out of the gates is a huge advantage regardless of what you’re playing against. Personally I favor the Smeargle version, but many people prefer no Smeargle and instead opt to run Pokégear and Dual Ball for the fast starts.
I’ve tested both decks and really don’t find one far superior to the other; it honestly comes down to personal preference. I’m sure for every reason I could come up with why the Smeargle version is better, Kyle Sucevich could tell you why the Dual Ball/Gear version is better. It’s really just personal preference and I recommended testing each and see what works for you.
As for the game itself, the way I approach mirror is like a chess game and I’m always looking to make the best tradeoffs. This changes from one game to the next determined by both how I opened and how my opponent opened.
A factor that can come into play is whether or not your opponent is playing Terrakion. This is going to sound very arrogant, and I’m sure I’m going to offend a few people by saying this, but for the most part good players don’t play a Terrakion in the deck. Zekrom-EX sees play in only about half the builds, and outside of that Terrakion is a 1-1 tradeoff, which is something the deck should be doing anyway. It also really kills your consistency and hurts other matchups. If I’m sitting down across from a player I know is good, I normally assume they don’t play Terrakion. Notice how I used the word “normally” and not “always.”
One of the first major principles to understand about playing mirror is that nothing is very valuable. Attackers are a time dozen and often are very easily self-replaced. Eelektriks on the other hand are very important to the deck because of the constant stream of energy they provide. This allows the deck to reasonable easily keep a study stream of attackers coming.
All of this being said though, Eelektriks are not “essential” for the deck to survive. In the early stages of the game, there simply is not enough L Energy in the discard pile to make a major differences. In later stages of the game Mewtwo EX and DCE answer a lot of problems even without Eelektrik in play. I find that killing the opponent’s Eelektriks in many cases is more about limiting their options than actually crippling them. While normally I find killing Eelektriks a good move, it’s normally not worth over-extending for unless you feel it will dramatically hurt your opponent.
I normally try and get an early game Thundurus off since this opens up the possibility for cheap prizes and puts L Energy in the discard pile. This is a rather obvious and common opening move though, so if your opponent beats you to the bunch on this it becomes a matter of trying to answer this move, typically with a Zekrom BLW.
At this point it’s really about just making tradeoffs back and forth. Like I said, attackers really don’t mean a whole lot so games can become pretty fast paced at this point. Depending on my board position, sometimes I like to force the Mewtwo exchange and sometimes I prefer to have my opponent do it. Forcing my opponent to drop the first Mewtwo is normally a matter of simply not dropping mine or making my opponent think that I don’t have a response to their Mewtwo EX.
When it comes to Mewtwo EX, it’s important to remember that it’s never safe as soon as you drop an energy on it. Your opponent is just a Catcher, Dynamotor, DCE, and PlusPower away from a KO. This may not seem very likely, but it happens all the time. Normally it’s best to not even drop Mewtwo EX into play until you want to start the exchange, but this isn’t always possible.
Regardless of if or when the Mewtwo exchanges begin to happen, once again N is going to be the clutch card in the mirror match. The key time to play N is when you feel your opponent is weakest or like they are holding a lot of options in their hand. This really just comes from practice and experience, but knowing when to drop an N is huge.
Going along with that, know that a late game N is coming from your opponent and do your best to prepare your board position accordingly. How strong of a field you have heading into that late game N is major factor. Having a strong field won’t guarantee that you win, but a weak field probably will guarantee that you don’t.
Playing the mirror match is just so much like playing chess with both players looking to make the better exchanges. What I talked about are some of the different things that I try and watch for when I’m playing mirror. The best way and only way to get better at mirror is just to practice it a lot.
I personally feel like I got better and better at playing mirror as States went on. There is also such a huge difference between testing in your living room and playing in a competitive tournament. If you don’t have a ton of experience with Zekrom/Eelektrik, consider playing it at Battle Roads.
Back in 2010, due to having an invite from T4 Worlds, I really didn’t travel much that year. I played Gardevoir SW at States, a deck I had a ton of experience with and I played Jumpluff HS at Regionals. When it came to Nationals, I felt like LuxChomp was the best deck in the format, but I had no experience playing the deck. This forced me to play Kingdra/Machamp; a deck I really didn’t want to play and ended up with subpar results.
Ever since then, I did a much better job at testing and playing the top decks in the format. Battle Roads are a great chance to test a deck you’re less familiar with without really risking anything.
With both States and Regionals out of the way, we’re in the home stretch when it comes to invites. Some people are going to be looking to sure up that invite at Battle Roads, while others are putting all of their hopes at Nationals this summer. Either way, Battle Roads is going to act as a great way to help people test and prepare for Nationals in a competitive tournament setting.
I expect to see a lot of people traveling for Battle Roads just trying to get themselves in a better position come Nationals. I would expect a far more competitive environment than we saw at Fall Battle Roads.
Battle Roads will also be the first set of tournaments that our new set Dark Explorers will be legal for. I’m currently working on a few secret decks from the next set that I’ll share in my next article once I can get some more testing in with them. I also plan on covering what impact this new set will have on the existing format and updated list for both CMT and Zekrom/Eelektrik.
I really don’t mean to keep throwing it in your face, but if you liked the article I would love it if you clicked the “like” button at the bottom. If you didn’t like the article, send me an email and tell me what you think I could improve on. As always, shoot me any questions or comment you have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I respond to all the emails I receive.
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