Hello SixPrizes nation. I know many are in the midst of finals for high school or college, and I wish you the best of luck. I hope that this article is a nice diversion from the stressfully mundane end of the semesters. Today, I will be diving into two main topics: the BLW–PLF format and the Professor Cup.
I know talking about the Professor Cup may turn some of you off, but I also know that many in the UG will be participating and I want to get the conversation rolling.
To get to the portion of the article you want to read, simply follow the links below.
Table of Contents
- The New Format
- The Professor Cup
The New Format
nocoffeeplease.tumblr.comThis deck always seems to be the most polarizing in the format. Some people love it and claim it to be the best deck in the format, while others hate the fact that it is so easily donked and possibly shut out of games early. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this conversation will continue well into the next format.
RayEels remains the one deck that, when all goes according to plan, can consistently and easily take three 1HKOs on any EX in the format and close out a game in an instant. That is simply too much power to write off and ignore.
It is understandable that people are a bit worried about the early game pressure from the new Plasma Basic deck, but I am not any more worried about the Plasma Basics deck than I was about the Big Basics deck featuring Landorus-EX. If Landorus was not strong enough to completely lock RayEels out of the format, then nothing will lock RayEels out of the format. So, we might as well take a look at what a BLW–PLF format list may look like.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
I was firmly aboard the Emolga train for much of last format, but then an interesting question arose. Should the your aim be to win the tournament or to make the top cut?
Now, obviously you must make top cut before you can win an event, but the two are sufficiently separate goals to prompt a difference in deck building approaches. Running a solid count of Emolga definitely increases the consistency of your Eels deck. It allows for the deck to absorb early pressure and then to push back once your opponent has exhausted resources. However, letting your opponent get ahead in the game is always a risky business because you simply may not draw into the correct cards to stage the comeback.
Running the deck without Emolga and with Victini-EX is much more proactive, but less consistent. Turbo Energize is an excellent attack and allows the deck to threaten a turn two Dragon Burst for 180 damage, but at the expense of establishing your Eelektriks in quicker order.
Now, if your goal is to simply make the cut more often, consistency (Emolga) is always the way to go. Conversely, if you want to win the tournament, sometimes you have to take that extra bit of risk and increase the potential ceiling of your deck (Victini-EX). Yes, you might be unlucky and not make the cut at all, but if you do make the cut your chances of winning rise because of the best of three format.
Therefore, I have switched to being firmly in the 4/4 Ball engine with Victini-EX as my preferred opener. This allows the deck to be much more proactive in attacking the game and winning decisively.
In my eyes, the list mentioned above is difficult to deviate from. I could see some trying to cheat and go down to two Catchers, but I believe this is an unwise decision. The new Plasma Basic deck will be attacking RayEels with Kyurem PLF more often than not. However, for Kyurem to be effective, the Plasma player will need multiple Deoxys-EX in play. To beat the Plasma deck, you need to be able to use three Catchers and attack three EXs for your 6 Prizes.
One way around that conundrum is to run Dowsing Machine over Computer Search. This is always an interesting debate; however, with Victini-EX and a limited number of Fire Energy in the deck, I prefer the more proactive searching ACE SPEC to get a turn one Turbo Energize more often.
One could also play with fire and go down to three Switch to make room for another Pokémon. While this will not harm you in many games, it will inevitably catch up to you at some point over the course of a tournament with only two Skyarrow Bridge. You simply must be able to get Pokémon in and out of the Active Spot.
2 Other Pokémon
Finally, we have the two slots left open for other Pokémon, and this is where deck building skills become extremely important. In my estimation there are five main possibilities for this slot: Zekrom BLW, Victini NVI 15, Rayquaza DRV, Mr. Mime PLF, or Victini-EX. Let us take a quick look at these options.
With the possible rise of Lugia EX (and Tornadus-EX PLF), Lightning type attackers may become prevalent in the game again. Having a non-EX attacker that can easily 1HKO a very powerful Pokémon is nothing to be scoffed at. The only problem is the recoil from Bolt Strike. If you do KO a Lugia EX, another Lugia EX can KO Zekrom for 2 Prizes. However, I believe back to back Lugia EX attacks will not be common.
I am not convinced that Klinklang has seen the end of its days. Now obviously, if Klinklang is not in your area, then Victini is not a wise decision. However, packing a near auto-win condition against a deck is not a bad thing.
This little bugger just keeps rearing his little head. In reality, the only reason this card keeps seeing play is because of opposing RayEels and opposing Blastoise w/ Black Kyurem EX decks. Just two days ago I pulled off a turn two KO on a Black Kyurem with Rayquaza. The card certainly swings those to matchups into your favor.
Mr. Mime is one of my favorite cards from the new set, I am just unsure exactly how much play it will see. Spread and snipe attacks have been very important for nearly two years now with Raikou-EX, Darkrai EX, Landorus-EX, Registeel-EX, and now Kingdra PLF and Kyurem PLF, not to mention the Garchomp C LV.X before that. Furthermore, Eelektrik’s 90 HP has always opened it up to the possibility of being sniped.
Naturally, a Basic that can prevent that damage from adding up deserves consideration.
Another copy of Victini-EX may help the deck deck off the turn one Turbo Energizer more often.
All of these options are appealing, so which two deserve consideration? I am currently running a second Victini-EX and a Rayquaza. However, Mr. Mime is certainly the next card I would consider. I am running Victini-EX and Rayquaza because I believe they make the deck more consistent than virtually all other combinations of the possible cards. When I am in the testing phases, I try to go for a consistent list first, and then I may move on toward a more risky build if I decide I need to.
I want to take a bit of a controversial approach to Blastoise in this section. I definitely need more testing, but I actually like a non-Black Kyurem EX version of the deck a bit more than the Black Kyurem EX version. With Blastoise no longer being safe and the addition Superior Energy Retrieval, I like the stability and power that Keldeo-EX brings to the game.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
I know the list is a little rough, but I like the concept. Superior Energy Retrieval allows the deck to get out huge Keldeo-EXs in record time and threaten the entire board with a very high damage attack. However, I want to talk most about two interesting card counts: Manaphy and Mewtwo EX.
Manaphy is an excellent addition that came to light during the States season. Manaphy facilitates two things. First, Seafaring allows you to Ultra Ball Energy away early in the game and then aim to get it back latter in the game during a lull. Even more important, Final Wish allows you to hide behind Manaphy early in the game while putting your opponent on an odd Prize count. All while you get to search out your deck for any card to which will facilitate your set up.
Manaphy is like an automatic Twins. It puts you down in Prizes, but it allows you to stabilize your field.
Mewtwo EX is still a very good card and Deoxys-EX does not change that. With Deluge, getting three Energy onto Mewtwo EX to return KO Deoxys-EX is not difficult, and Deoxys will not spell the end of Mewtwo EX.
I am ultimately skeptical of how good either form of Blastoise will be in the coming format, but I am excited to see how this version of Blastoise fares (if anyone else will attempt to play it).
Darkrai has and will continue to be one of the strongest decks in the format, and one of the most interesting ones to play. This will hold particular truth in the Plasma Basics matchup. Both decks have capable non-EX attackers, Item Energy acceleration, and potent attacks. Additionally, unlike the Big Basics versus Darkrai matchup, neither deck has the type advantage on the other.
The real key to this matchup is how the Plasma player decides to approach Absol. Of course Plasma Basics can load up the bench to utilize Thundurus EX to its fullest potential. With multiple Deoxys-EX and places to accelerate Energy to, Thundurus can be a complete load.
If the Plasma player takes that approach then Absol will become a hard hitting, low Energy truck. Absol can potentially swing for 180 damage and deal with any Plasma Basics threat. However, if the Plasma Basics deck limits the benched Pokémon, then Absol becomes less useful, but the Plasma deck also runs sub-optimally, hitting for less damage and having fewer Raiden Knuckle targets.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 41
Energy – 11
As you can see, I have opted for the non-Hammers version of the deck. The Hammer version of Darkrai may well turn out to be the stronger of the two variants, but I have my doubts. Sableye is no longer considered a “safe” Basic which makes looping Hammers increasingly difficult.
As for my take on take on a list, there are a couple things to note. First, I still do not love any full contingent of Supporters for this deck. So, I am very unsettled on the counts. I know that Juniper and N need to be in full counts, but the rest are still difficult to get correct. Colress and Bianca seem to be the strongest of the rest, but they are often underwhelming. I am currently working with one Shadow Triad, but this might simply be better served as another Hypnotoxic Laser.
The one Supporter I am sure I do not like here is Ghetsis. Andrew Wambolt in his most recent article explained the numbers behind why this card is very underwhelming. I simply do not like it because speed, above all else, wins games for Darkrai.
The other card I believe to be very important to this version of Darkrai is Max Potion. With a high count of Energy Switch and large HP Basics, hitting a single Max Potion may be the difference between winning and losing a game.
As for the Pokémon line, I believe have have sufficiently worked the averages into a favorable position. Now, you really want to open with Darkrai active to avoid the donk, and four copies of Darkrai is the best way to accomplish that optimal opening.
The only thing we can state with some measure of certainty is that Plasma Basics will be a deck, and it will be a pretty good one. It might become the best deck in the format, but I am not completely sure it is. Let us dive right into a list and facilitate the conversation around the proposed list.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 37
Energy – 13
I have simply been astounded at the number of lists that have 4 Deoxys-EX and 2 Thundurus EX in the deck. The deck has a very, very clear optimal play on turn one, and that play is to utilize Raiden Knuckle for early pressure and Energy acceleration. Every other play is suboptimal.
Now, because the deck needs a bit of flexibility, I find it difficult to go all in with four Thundurus EX, but two is definitely not enough.
Conversely, Deoxys-EX is a horrible starter, the worst starter actually. So, why people would run a full play set is also beyond me. The added damage is excellent, but it is not backbreakingly good. The strength of the deck is pressure with Thundurus EX and the other attackers. Anything over two Deoxys on the bench is either a luxury or a bit greedy.
The 1/1/1 line is also a bit different than most. Lugia EX, when coming from a Scramble Switch can end a game out of nowhere. Snorlax and Kyurem are both excellent non-EX attackers, and each of them have strengths and weaknesses. Kyurem is extremely strong against Landorus-EX due to weakness and is strong against RayEels due to the early spread attack. Snorlax is better as just a brute force attacker than has the potential to take down any Pokémon in the game. For those reasons, I decided to run one of each.
The last Pokémon slot could be devoted to another Thundurus EX, Kyurem, or Tornadus-EX PLF. Kyurem is obviously a strong attacker and Thundurus EX emphasizes the optimal turn one play for the deck.
However, Tornadus-EX PLF is very intriguing to me. It is a method of protection from N. Windfall protects you from getting stuck at one or two cards once you have established the lead. Also, Jet Blast can become formidable in the late game. You can utilize either Scramble Switch or Colress Machine/Raiden Knuckle to get two or three Plasma Energy onto Tornadus EX. Then you can attack for 150 to 180 damage in one shot.
So, for now, I have Tornadus-EX PLF as the last slot.
The main point here is that there are only two Double Colorless Energy, and most deck builders automatically include four DCE. However, I am unsure that is a wise decision. Again, the optimal play on turn one is to get a Raiden Knuckle off. To do that the deck needs adequate outs to Lightning Energy on turn one. Running fewer than seven outs would be unwise.
Likewise, throughout the game you need to capitalize on as many Colress Machines as possible; so, you need four Colress Energy. Therefore, Double Colorless Energy getting cut down to two is a necessity.
The two Virbank City Gyms should be obvious. However, the decision to use Frozen City or Plasma Frigate is a meta call. Both Landorus-EX and Zekrom/Thundurus EX will see play. That makes Plasma Frigate a valuable addition to tilt the field back into your direction. Frozen City helps to keep Blastoise in check even more than it already does through its speed advantage.
Plasma Basics is certainly a strong deck and the mirror matchup will likely come down to each player’s list. So, I hope you found some of my thought process enlightening.
After States and Regionals, both of these decks were highly regarded an considered to be mainstays in the competitive landscape. So, have they actually fallen off significantly, or people are simply overlooking two very good decks?
The two decks have two different futures, in my estimation. Garbodor seems to be trouble, unless it finds some new partners in crime. Taking away Deoxys’ Ability is actually very good because then the Plasma deck hits for very mediocre damage. Unfortunately, Landorus-EX is no longer extremely safe in that matchup because Kyurem PLF will simply do work. Kyurem is strong enough to really push Landorus-EX around in that matchup.
However, I am slightly befuddled by the masses running away from Klinklang. The new deck on the block is a deck that relies almost completely upon EX attackers. Even more, the main non-EX attackers are both susceptible to being shut down by Cobalion-EX.
First, all of the Energy in the Plasma deck are Special Energy. So Righteous Edge may have a hay day in removing Energy every bit as quickly as Thundurus EX can bring it back.
Second, Kyurem PLF is weak to Metal types and Cobalion-EX can easily 1HKO Kyurem once you hit three Metal Energy. Edit: Steel Bullet does not apply Weakness.
So, in summation, I believe Klinklang may still be viable, but Garbodor will need a serious overhaul to step back into the limelight.
No article would be complete without my pet deck of the format: Chandelure. The most obvious combo with Chandelure is Reshiram BLW, especially after the success of TyRam (ReshiPhlosion) in recent times. However, I do not think this is the best way to run Chandelure in the current format.
If the Chandelure retrieved Energy from the discard pile, I am sure the Reshiram/Chandelure would be a decent enough deck. However, the added difficulty of having to get the Energy back into the deck is simply too much for the deck.
But, fear not, I do believe there is another non-EX Basic that may pair excellently with Chandelure, and that Pokémon is Snorlax.
Snorlax is an excellent non-EX that can deal 180 damage, enough to 1HKO any unassisted Pokémon-EX. Yet, Snorlax has not seen much play as of yet, and the reason for its lack of play is an absurd CCCCC Energy cost for Teampact. Previously, all of the Energy accelerators did not work well with Snorlax, because they were non-Plasma Pokémon and did not charge Teampact.
However, Chandelure is a Plasma Pokémon that does charge up Teampact, while accelerating Energy onto Snorlax.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
With Litwick and Tornadus EX, you have 6 desirable opening Pokémon, so long as you go first. If you go second, you better hope you have opened with Tornadus EX.
Otherwise, the deck is pretty straightforward and it simply aims to get Snorlax up and rolling as quickly as possible. Actually, if the opportunity presents itself, you do not want to use Tornadus EX, and force your opponent into taking six knockouts to win the game.
Chandy/Snorlax seems like a powerful deck, and it has proven so in my testing, when you get the crazy good opening draw. However, that draw does not come around often enough for the deck to power its way into the top tiers.
The Professor Cup
For those of you who do not realize it already, Indianapolis actually hosts two important Pokémon TCG tournaments during the Nationals weekend. Obviously there is the main event, Nationals, but there is also the penultimate event for the Professors, the Professor Cup (PC).
The neat thing about the PC is that every year they modify the rules of the game or format, specifically for this event, and the European counterpart. For example, two years ago you had to play with only one Pokémon type in your deck and last year you treated Stage 1s as Basics.
This year is no different. Here are the rule modifications for the events:
- For a Pokémon to be legal, or eligible to be used, it must be able to evolve.
- For example, Tepig and Pignite may be played, but Emboar may not be played because it does not evolve into anything. This means that you can only play with the Evolving Basics and the Evolving Stage Ones.
- The deck size is limited to 30 cards.
- You may only have two copies of any cards with the same name.
- The game is played with only 3 Prize cards.
The rule modifications will definitely alter exactly how impactful certain cards may be.
The first and most obvious card that warrants considering its new impact is N. This card already sees near maximum play in the standard metagame, but it is even more impactful for the PC format because the games start at 3 Prizes.
This means that if one player gets to play down his or her full hand on turn one and then play N, that player will likely be at an advantage throughout the entire game.
Yep, you read that correctly. Just like in most limited formats, I believe Special Conditions may play a large part in these games. Because you are limited to two Switch and two Escape Rope, Full Heal may come in handy to cleanse the your Pokémon from certain conditions.
Again, you read that correctly, and it says Frozen City. Despite there not being any Plasma Pokémon eligible for play in the PC, Frozen City may be an excellent choice for two reasons. First, you could plan your deck around healing off the Frozen City damage and let the damage accumulate onto your opponent’s Pokémon. Secondly, you may need to bounce a Virbank City Gym, and Frozen City could be your ticket out of town.
Great Ball may not see play, but it is worth at least considering. In a 30 card deck, where you open with a seven card hand and 3 Prizes, getting to go seven cards deeps is actually fairly strong. You essentially get to look through a third of your deck to find a Pokémon.
Now, by my count there are roughly 50 Pokémon that deserve to be considered for play. This is not an exhaustive count of all the Pokémon eligible, but it is a count of the ones that seem to have potential in this format. Here are some of the more interesting ones.
With Virbank City Gym in the format, Poison appears ready to be an integral part of the format. However, you only have access to two Laser throughout the game, and other methods of inflicting Poison become more important. Both of these Pokémon have Abilities that Poison any Pokémon that does damage to them.
This is the maximum HP of any relevant Pokémon in the format. This makes the magic numbers 50 and 100. If you can deal 50+ damage per turn cycle, you can secure a 2HKO against any Pokémon. If you can deal 100 damage per turn cycle, you can 1HKO any Pokémon.
Pokémon – 6
Trainers – 18
Energy – 6
The idea here is to get your opponent to attack into a Poison recoil. Then utilize Max Potion to keep your guys alive, and win the Poison wars.
Pokémon – 6
Trainers – 17
Energy – 7
The simple idea with this deck is to just accelerate Energy with Eelektrik and then deal 50 with either Eelektrik of Electabuzz.
Anyway, I hope you can see how much fun and how challenging the Professor Cup will be this year.
Until next time,
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