Step Right Up and Win a Prize!

An Analysis of the Japanese Battle Carnival
season2_ep37_ss1 pokemon
“Step right up and win a prize!”

Hey everyone, my name is Henry Prior, a first year Master from Ohio. I joined organized play in 2005, and have played in every Modified format since then. I like to think I know a little something about many aspects of the game due to my experience. I’ll be writing my first article in a long time for this site on an interesting topic that a lot of the player base doesn’t know about, which is the Japanese Battle Carnivals.

For those of you that don’t know, the Battle Carnivals are the most important tournament in any competitive Japanese player’s year and will be played with BW1-BW9 (Black & White through Megalo Cannon). They are very similar to the Gym Challenges that used to be held in the rest of the world; the winner of the tournament earns a Worlds invite.

With only 5 possible Carnivals to attend from May to June many players and their teams (the “team” state of mind is really big in Japanese Pokémon with a lot of the best players working together on deck ideas, lists, and even sharing a card pool in some cases) are scrambling to make the best possible decks.

I would like to thank my Japanese friend for helping me out with much of the information in this article including decklists and the metagame.


The metagame before the tournament, taken from shop tournament results, testing results, and speculation is very similar to what the United States format is turning into right now. The only deck that is added with BW9 is Virizion EX + Genesect EX, but the rest of the decks seem very standard.

“But why isn’t Blastoise + Keldeo-EX + Black Kyurem-EX PLS on the list? It should be tier 1, right?” Although Blastoise is one of the best decks right now I decided not to add it to the tier list. Because of the cost of Japanese Tropical Beach, which is about $180-200 , the deck isn’t an option for the majority of their player base.

Tier 1

  • Team Plasma
  • Virizion EX + Genesect EX
  • Darkrai EX + Absol PLF

Tier 2

  • Klinklang + Cobalion EX
  • Garbodor + Attackers

SAMPLE DecklistS

Team Plasma

Pokémon – 10

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Kyurem PLF

2 Thundurus EX

1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 27

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

3 Colress


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Colress Machine

3 Plasma Ball

3 Silver Bangle

3 Switch

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Float Stone

1 Energy Search

1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 13

4 Prism

4 Plasma

2 W

2 L

1 Blend WLMF
Kyurem can 1HKO any card in the format on turn 2, hence its focus.

This list is pretty unique in my opinion. The deck is focused around Kyurem attacking quickly and being able to 1-shot every Pokémon your opponent can get out. Thundurus isn’t as crucial to this build as others, and although it is a great starter and helps a lot versus Cobalion-EX and Enhanced Hammer, Kyurem is usually the preferred starter.

Being able to do damage to the bench isn’t that much more important than getting a Special Energy from the discard, but being able to get Energy on Kyurem turn 1 in preparation for the turn 2 Blizzard Burn is crucial. Kyurem has the potential to 1-shot any card the the format turn 2 with a few Deoxys-EX and a Silver Bangle.

There are a few card choices that people are probably wondering about after looking at the list. First of all, no Hypnotoxic Laser + Virbank City Gym combo. Both cards get a lot weaker with Virizion-EX coming out, which would make 6 cards in your deck dead-draws. Silver Bangle essentially serves the same purpose; to allow Kyurem to one shot an EX. Kyurem can take out any non-EX in the format, which makes Silver Bangle the perfect alternative. This also frees up 3 spots in the deck that can be used to add Supporters and make your deck more consistent.

Another card choice that differs from our current format is 2 Tool Scrapper. The new Pokémon Tool that was released in BW9, Silver Mirror, can wreak havoc on this deck, so 2 Tool Scapper is needed to take care of it.

Finally, the basic Energy are nice to be able to Skyla for an Energy Search turn 1 or against Cobalion-EX or Sableye + Enhanced Hammer.

Blastoise + Keldeo-EX + Black Kyurem EX

Pokémon – 13

4 Squirtle BCR

4 Blastoise BCR

3 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

2 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper

2 N

4 Skyla

3 Colress


4 Ultra Ball

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Rare Candy

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

1 Level Ball

1 Computer Search


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

10 W

3 L

This list doesn’t need very much explanation in my opinion. It is based purely on consistency and being able to get set up before the faster decks in the format can stop you from getting a Blastoise out. Although Beaches are hard to find, 3 is the best number to be running to make sure you can get one turn 1 in anticipation for the turn 2 Blastoise.

One thing I would have changed from this list would be to take out 1 or 2 Superior Energy Retrieval and make a 2/3 split with regular Energy Retrieval. This list is still great and doesn’t even need any cards from the new set to perform well.


My friend along with his teammates played Blastoise + Keldeo-EX + Black Kyurem-EX PLS for the tournament. I was able to pick up some cheap Tropical Beaches for them a couple months ago so they had enough for their whole team to play Blastoise.

To get into the top 32 each player had to win 7 games in a row. Each player starts a “challenge” and gets paired with another player. If you lose 1 game you have to start over at the end of the line for a new challenge.

The biggest issue was the amount of players at the event, players would have to wait until tables opened up to start a new challenge and the top 32 filled up quickly with so many players. This system is new this year and many Japanese players have complained about it. I find it really funny how players in the US complain about our Swiss rounds and try to push for a change when my friend said that most Japanese players would kill just to have Swiss rounds.

Challenge 1

Round 1 – Trubbish PLS 65 + Sigilyph + Masquerain – Loss

Challenge 2

Round 1 – Team Plasma – Win
Round 2 – Leafeon PLF + Suicune – Win
Round 3 – Eelektrik + Rayquaza – Win
Round 4 – Tornadus-EX DEX + Lugia EX + Mewtwo EX – Win
Round 5 – Time Called

Sadly, even though he was 4-0 he still didn’t get a spot in top 32, which is outrageous. Takuya made it to top 32 and Sho made it top 16, which shows that the deck had potential and he could have made it into cut given more time. Although they didn’t want me to reveal their team’s decklist because they still might play the deck for upcoming Battle Carnivals, this list is still similar and shows off a few of the unique cards choices.

Pokémon – 13

4 Squirtle BCR

3 Blastoise BCR

3 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

2 Keldeo-EX

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Juniper

3 N

4 Skyla

3 Colress


4 Ultra Ball

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Rare Candy

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

1 Level Ball

1 Scoop Up Cyclone


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

10 W

3 L

Final Results

Here are the results for the tournament:

1st – Virizion-EX + Genesect EX
2nd – Hydreigon DRX 97 + Darkrai EX + Virizion-EX + Absol PLF + Sableye DEX
3rd – Klinklang + Cobalion-EX + Keldeo-EX + Cobalion EPO
4th – Thundurus EX + Deoxys-EX + Kyurem PLF

The only deck that was a surprise was Hydreigon, especially making it to 2nd place. The format seems too fast for the deck, but someone obviously made it works, so props to them! I hope some of you found this article interesting and useful. I thought this topic would be a nice change from all the current format stress and Nationals preparation. Thanks for reading!

Reader Interactions

25 replies

  1. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    Very interesting article. Thanks for writing.

    Every player whose overdeveloped sense of entitlement has made them whine about our tournament system should read it and realise they’ve got it good.

  2. poxstep

    Seedot who took the third place also commented some stuff on his blog about this battle carnival, and iirc the 2nd place winner did not play hydreigon.. just darkrai-virizon-absol-sableye. Some other team in Japan also plays energy search right now in their BKB list, and 4 super retrieval > any kind of split.. people worries too much about the discard :/

    • Orrin Wilson  → poxstep

      ehh, I have been testing blastiose for brs and i did need at least 1 regular retrevial, discarding is harder that you think in most cases. 4 super can be too much assuming you only need 3 ballistas to win, and the first one comes from manual attachment.

      • Mykel Bog  → Orrin

        First one doesn’t necessarily come from manual attachment. I often find myself purposely discarding energy so I can get it when I need it with SER. I run 3 SER 1 regular atm. Might go 4/0, but definitely not below 3/1.

  3. AJ Khadse

    Nice article henry. Gives us a new look at next
    format and a sort of break from the format we are currently in.
    Also, I agree that a regular retrieval is needed with SER. sometimes the discard is too much, and blastoise needs to manage its resources wisely to survive to the late game.

    • Joseph Lee  → AJ

      Pretty sure SER is still illegal, as it hasn’t been reprinted since Base Set 2. Granted, anyone who has ever played a game against it has no reason to forget it, even after all this time.

      Unless you meant Superior Energy Retrieval, in which case I recommend an acronym that is not already taken by a historic card. ;)

      • Adam Capriola  → Joseph

        I’m pretty sure everyone is going to be referring to Superior Energy Retrieval as SER. I don’t think you’re going to win that one, Otaku!

        • Joseph Lee  → Adam

          And I’ll cringe every time. ;-)

          I’ve been referring to Super Energy Removal as SER since at least 2001 (I can’t remember if I used SER as shorthand for it before I joined the online community). 12 years of using it that way, combined with setting a precedent to awkwardly change established terminology just to fit the flavor of the format may suite you fine.

          It doesn’t me. I doubt I’ll change a lot of minds, but that has never stopped me before.

        • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Joseph

          I’m agreeing with you on this one Otaku. I won’t call it SER and I won’t much like it when others do.

          But there are people playing this game who weren’t even born when SER was legal. It’s not a fight we can win.

        • Joseph Lee  → Jak

          Like I said, I doubt people will listen, but since when has that meant one shouldn’t try? ;)

  4. Tyler Kittelson-Burke

    Nice. But the new tools kinda look like yugioh cards!

  5. Tyler Kittelson-Burke

    Also, what exactly does Virizon EX do to stop poision?

  6. jet9855

    great job on the article i’m glad to see that not all top decks in japan are big basics and that there is still a little hope for the stage 2’s. hopefully that will be the case with america .

  7. Adam Capriola

    Funny quirk to this article: When I was Henry’s age in 2005, I also had correspondence with a Japanese player named Daichi. We swapped deck lists through email and one of the lists he sent me was a Zapdos ex/Nidoqueen RG/Pidgeot RG/Pokemon Reversal deck, which Pablo Meza, Jeremy Maron, and I playtested and eventually converted to the Queendom deck that won Worlds in 2005.

    Turns out Henry and I have both talked to the same Daichi, 8 years apart! Pretty crazy.

  8. Shining Yue

    I might be wrong, but isnt Megalocannon english set released right after worlds (and rotation)? So we’ll never see a format like this.

    Interesting though.

    • Henry Prior  → Shining

      Who says there’s going to be a rotation? It seems reasonable not to with all the reprints and being able to synchronize our format with the japanese in the near future.

  9. Piplup_isPimp

    Nice to see Sigilyph still trollin’ the format in the next set, though it sucks that Daichi lost to it.

  10. Sammy Cruz

    Are there blogs/websites I can go to see japanese tournament results/blogs/etc? Links would be great. I love articles that deal with foreign meta, so thanks for this!

  11. siri

    Its good that HTL appears to be dead. Suicune/Sigilyph with Silver Mirror is going to cause every TDK deck to run 2 Scrappers which also means Garbodor is dead.

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in.