My National Championship is two weeks away, but some international Nationals have already taken place with Plasma Freeze. The Battle Roads season is underway as well. We have had Plasma Freeze legal only for a few weeks now and we are already seeing interesting and surprising results!
Gothitelle/Accelgor has quickly become one of the most hyped decks and Plasma Klinklang has had its fair share of success as well. Who would have thought that Stage 2 decks are the ones that you need to be scared of?
The surprising success of these Evolution decks has made a lot of people unsure of what they should play. I’ll try to clear that picture with today’s article. I’ll be concentrating on four decks: the previously mentioned Gothitelle and Klinklang, plus Plasma and Darkrai as well. I strongly feel that Plasma and Darkrai, when modded, are still the two best decks in the format.
Table of Contents
- Metagame Counters
- Metagame Counter Counters
First of all, don’t go any further if you haven’t yet read my initial article on the deck because I won’t be explaining the strategy or the basic card choices here. The article on my blog is a very good starting point of how the deck functions and why it’s so strong.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 36
Energy – 4
Improvements from the Original List
This list includes several improvements from the list given in my blog entry. Let’s take a look at these changes:
I would almost consider this a must. A 3-2 line runs much smoother and as the 2nd Munna has been removed, the one additional Basic is necessary if you don’t want to get donked.
Dowsing Machine is sick in this deck. You can reuse anything from Super Rod to Pokémon Catcher and the versatility it gives you is much more valuable than the small consistency boost Computer Search provides.
Level Ball is very nice in here and playing 4 Ultra Balls is a bit overkill. That’s why a 3-2-2 line has proven to be the most optimal in my current testing. It brings a nice balance of discarding unnecessary cards and searching for Pokémon at the right times.
Playing 4 is too much. In order to make the deck as good as possible, you need to smoothen all the card lines in the deck and decreasing the Float Stone count from 4 to 3 is a natural progression. Granted, you need then need to play your Float Stones more carefully, but it doesn’t make the deck any worse; it just makes it more difficult to play.
One was too few. With 2 Catchers and Dowsing Machine you will be able to drag just the Pokémon you want to the Active Spot at the right time. Two Catchers is especially good when playing against Plasma decks because you want to lockdown their Deoxys-EXs for easy Prizes.
A 1-1 line is enough. Also, it’s good to mention that nowadays I prefer the 70 HP Munna. There were too many situations where a T1 Deoxys-EX caused me headache because the other Munna was 1HKO’d thanks to its 60 HP. The 10 additional HP works wonders in the early game (especially on T1 when you would otherwise get donked).
Counters to Gothitelle/Accelgor
There are several ways of keeping Gothitelle/Accelgor in check and here I’ll go through some tech options that can be used in the current metagame.
1-1 Espeon DEX
Espeon was used as an Accelgor counter last season, however it is not nearly as good nowadays because Pokémon Catcher is a staple in Gothitelle/Accelgors. Also, Espeon is weak to Psychic, which is a huge issue, because that means Mew-EX can 1HKO it.
Nonetheless, it’s an interesting card to consider, because in the end, drawing into Catchers isn’t that easy for them and Accelgor really doesn’t want to 1HKO anything.
This, just like Espeon, can be applied to almost any deck. With double Keldeo-EX, you are able to escape Paralysis, prevent them Catcher stalling, and decks like Darkrai variants will destroy Gothitelle because the Keldeo-EXs can gain free retreat (because of Dark Cloak). Running only 2 Keldeo may become a problem if you Prize one though, and that’s why 3 is an option as well.
However, playing multiple Keldeo-EXs could be considered a hard counter against Accelgor decks and I wouldn’t recommend using 3 Keldeo-EXs unless your metagame was full of Gothitelles. In most decks the 2 Keldeo get the work done just fine.
Audino is a card that had been discussed a lot after Gothitelle/Accelgor won its first Nationals. The best thing about all the possible Gothitelle/Acclelgor counters, like Audino, is that they are very good against Hypnotoxic Laser as well. There is nothing more frustrating than losing a game to the infamous HTL heads/tails combo.
Audino is searchable with Ultra Ball or Level Ball, so all decks can search for it. I saw potential in Audino as soon as it was released and I think the time has come for Audino to become a popular tech in any deck that has trouble against Status locking decks.
1 Manaphy PLS (in Blastoise)
The matchup is favorable for Stoise player if they get Blastoise up before the Item lock, but if they don’t, they will be in trouble. That’s where Manaphy comes in.
If you are able to Energy accelerate your Keldeo-EXs with the help of Manaphy during turns 1-3, you should have 2 Keldeo-EXs ready to attack. That’s too much for Gothitelle/Accelgor to handle because with double Keldeo-EX you are able to avoid the Paralyzation lock and possibly Knock Out the Gothitelle in the early turns.
KOing Gothitelle early on is the same as win for you, because even one turn without Item lock can get you the Blastoise and after that Keldeo-EX Rush Ins finish the job.
Sacrificing Low-HP Basics
This can be applied especially with Eelektrik decks. Gothitelle/Accelgor aims at holding the Paralyzation lock with the help of Dusknoir and they don’t want you to be able to attack their Gothitelles.
However, sacrificing a Tynamo opens up your chance to 1HKO their Gothitelle. They will have to use their Catchers to get around your low-HP Pokémon, which makes things even more difficult to them.
1-1 Ninetales DRX
Ninetales was discussed on my blog a few month ago by Matijs Moree and it has seen some play in some Darkrai EX variants as well. Ninetales can not only get you out of the Item lock, but it can also inflict serious damage to your opponent’s overall game plan if you target the correct Pokémon.
Using Ninetales to drag up Dusknoir and KO it will put your opponent in big trouble. Even if you don’t KO it immediately, they may still be in trouble because they can’t retreat it without Float Stone. Another option is to target Accelgor. This is especially effective if they don’t have another Shelmet in play. Their strategy will be completely “paralyzed” and all they’ll have left is the Item lock, which is nothing if they can’t Deck and Cover you at the same time.
Whenever you get Ninetales into play against Gothitelle/Accelgor, it’s always good. The developing metagame will decide if Ninetales becomes a popular tech or if it stays as a surprise tech. In my opinion, it’s probably the strongest tech against Gothitelle/Accelgor due to its versatility in other matchups as well.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 37
Energy – 10
I mean, how long have I been bashing Klinklang? Ever since it first became competitive over a year ago! Even though I must admit that Klinklang is a playable deck in the right metagame, I still don’t think it can win a big tournament unless it gets just the right matchups. And I hope that after reading this article, you won’t be the one scooping to Klinklang because it’s completely in your hands as to how favorable your matchup will be against the deck.
Anyway, let’s take a quick look at the decklist. Overall, it isn’t that surprising. I’ve been developing Klinklang the past 2 months with my international friends and in the end the simplest variant has proven to be the best. No fancy techs like Darkrai EX, Durant DRX, or Keldeo-EX, but just pure Metal, which is able to overpower Kyurem PLFs and other Klinklang counter-techs.
This list is built to combat only the most dangerous decks of the current metagame: Darkrai EX, Plasma, and RayEels. In my opinion it’s a waste to start looking for a counter against Gothitelle/Accelgor because if the Gothitelle player’s decklist is good enough, even cards like Espeon or Audino won’t help you. You probably should just scoop the game if they go first and Gothitelle hits the table T2 (and your opponent is a good player).
So in the end, Gothitelle/Accelgor is just one more reason why you shouldn’t play Klinklang! Gothitelle/Accelgor has established its place as a Tier 1 competitor and if you want to win a tournament, you shouldn’t play a deck that has a near auto-loss to it.
Of course it depends a bit on the deck, but the rule of thumb is simple: play as many non-EX attackers as possible. In fact, I had already written a Klinklang counter article on my blog few months ago, so check it out. However, as the article is a bit outdated and Klinklang is still doing too well in my opinion, I figured there was a real need for an update on countering Klinklang. It really shouldn’t be considered a Tier 1 deck.
So, here’s a quick walkthrough on how to make your deck Klinklang-proof.
For any other deck than Blastoise, the Energy cost of Moltres would be too high, because after all, hitting for 90 with 4 Energy is horrible in the current format, but in Blastoise Energy requirements aren’t an issue. As stated, Moltres hits for 90, which is a perfect number because thanks to Weakness, Moltres 1HKOs every single Pokémon in Klinklang.
When combined with Superior Energy Retrievals and the huge HP of Moltres, Klinklang might as well scoop as soon as the Moltres hits the field because Moltres can single-handedly sweep the whole board of Klinklang.
The only issue with Moltres is its 1 Fire Energy requirement, but as you will probably be playing Black Kyurem EXs as well in your deck, fitting in 3-4 Prism Energy shouldn’t hurt you too much.
Black Kyurem is a lot more interesting of a tech against Klinklang than Moltres because it helps in other (difficult) matchups as well. Even though Black Kyurem can’t 1HKO any cards in Klinklang, it still is a very viable attacker against them because it does 2HKO everything.
Black Kyurem is the best option if you feel comfortable with your Klinklang matchup and can play around them with Blastoises as well. Not only can Black Kyurem help in the Klinklang matchup, it gives you a huge advantage against the two worst matchups for Blastoise: Mirror and RayEels.
I believe that thanks to Plasma, Black Kyurem-EX PLS has now become a staple attacker in Blastoise decks. You still need Keldeo-EXs due to the rise of Gothitelle/Accelgor, but Black Kyurem EX is often the main attacker in most matchups. And regular Black Kyurem just feasts on Black Kyurem EX. With only 4 Energy, you are able to 1HKO Black Kyurem EX with Black Kyurem thanks to its Weakness. This trade of a non-EX for a Pokémon-EX makes all the difference in the world in the Blastoise mirror and wins you games where your opponent mistakenly benches a Black Kyurem EX.
Against RayEels the story is a very similar. Once upon a time, you needed 6 Energy on Keldeo-EX to 1HKO a Rayquaza. Now all you need is a Black Kyurem with 4 Energy and you are able to 1HKO a Rayquaza EX with a non-EX attacker.
Overall, I like Black Kyurem better than Moltres because it’s more versatile and I believe Klinklang will see a decrease in play in the following weeks thanks to the rise of Gothitelle/Accelgor. Moltres is useless in any matchup other than Klinklang, which makes it a very questionable play unless you know that Klinklangs are swarming your local metagame.
Rayquaza/Eelektrik has a natural compatibility with any Fire Pokémon because it already runs Fire Energy due to Rayquaza EX’s Energy cost. That’s why I highly recommend using Victini in your Rayquaza/Eelektrik deck, even if you don’t expect to face that many Klinklangs in your metagame. Victini is so good because it’s natural for an Eelektrik deck to fill up their Bench with the help of Level Balls and Ultra Balls.
As Eelektrik decks also easily Energy accelerate your Victini on the turn it hits the table, it’s the number one Klinklang tech option for every single RayEels deck. Victini does the job that Moltres does with 4 Energy for only 2 Energy and since RayEels usually run Super Rods, the low HP of Victini really isn’t an issue since it’s a non-Pokémon-EX.
And as long as you keep their Energy attachments in check with Pokémon Catchers, they won’t even be able to KO your one 70 HP Victini.
Rayquaza/Eelektrik decks also usually run at least one Rayquaza DRV. The Rayquaza was originally included in the deck because of Garchomp/Altaria decks or Sigilyphs, but as the metagame has developed, its role has changed. It’s still very viable and is especially good against Klinklang, Black Kyurem EX, and any other random Dragon Pokémon you may encounter. It’s still also exceptionally good in RayEels mirror because it can 1HKO your opponent’s Tynamos with only 1 Energy.
However, when it comes solely on countering Klinklang, Victini is far superior since Rayquaza doesn’t 1HKO any Pokémon in Klinklang, thus providing no additional solutions that Eelektrik itself wouldn’t be able to provide.
1-2 Absol PLF
Absol is the most recent addition for Darkrai EX variants and it’s one of the best counters against the current metagame because it takes an advantage of your opponent’s Bench size. There really isn’t a deck that wants to play with small Bench nowadays.
There are decks that can play with a small bench, but they still get a bit disturbed by having less Pokémon in play. Examples of decks that can opt to use small benches include Darkrai and the deck that Absol is good against, Klinklang.
When playing against Klinklang with Darkrai, there are two different game plans for you to choose from:
- Attack with Absol as soon as possible (but make a concerted effort to be able to attack with it the turn you play it to the field).
- Fight with Darkrai and Sableye as long as possible, then play Absol when your opponent has filled up their Bench, thinking that you don’t run the card.
What I want to emphasize is that playing against Absol is very different and even unrealistic in test games for Klinklang because you’ll know if your opponent is playing Absol in their deck. However, in tournaments games it’s always a guessing game for the Klinklang player if the opponent plays an Absol or not. You have the surprise advantage as a Darkrai player and you should take an advantage of it in the tournament play.
Loads of Hammers
The oldest trick in the book for Darkrai to counter Klinklang is the oh-so-familiar Hammertime! There is nothing as fun as Hammer-spamming Klinklang to death. Unlimited Catchers, Hammers, and Potions for Sableye are too much for any Klinklang variant to take. From what I have been testing, 3 Crushing Hammer and 2 Enhanced Hammer is enough to take down Klinklangs.
If you have never played with the Hammer-spam strategy and are considering taking Darkrai to your Nationals or an other meaningful tournament, I suggest you practice with timed games. It takes a lot of patience to fall back 3-4 Prizes and then run your opponent out of resources.
However, it’s the most surefire way of getting the work done against Klinklang, so I suggest every Darkrai player to learn the strategy. Hammers are here to stay for Darkrai variants.
Plasma vs. Klinklang is probably one of the most controversial matchups in the whole format. People’s opinions differ a lot on this matchup and I think the reason for this is the huge difference between Plasma decklists.
I don’t like criticizing fellow UG writers, but Jay’s decklist in his last article was one of the worst Plasma lists I have ever seen on the internet. In my opinion it lacked focus on attacking Pokémon and Jay considered Kyurem as a tech even though it’s the best Pokémon in the whole deck! Not to mention that Jay’s list auto-loses to Klinklang.
I will emphasize how important Kyurem really is later on, but now onto the techs that Plasma has in store for Klinklang.
Absol works with Prism Energy and it’s just as good in Plasma as it is in Darkrai decks. Darkrai decks have Dark Claw to increase the damage output while Plasma decks have Deoxys-EX to add the damage output. When combined with at least two Kyurem, Absol is the last nail on the coffin of Klinklang.
Even though Kyurem is Weak to Metal, they are still so strong that Klinklang will have a lot of trouble even against them. Absol just seals the deal while still being a big attacker against other matchups as well.
1 Landorus Promo
Landorus is one of the most underrated techs in Plasma at the moment. It has great typing, especially the mirror where it can do a lot of damage as early as in T1 to your opponent’s Thundurus EX. However, when it comes to Klinklang, Landorus isn’t the best tech out there. It hits for 90 with 4 Energy, which Plasma can but doesn’t want to afford.
That doesn’t mean that Landorus is a bad card, it’s just not that good against Klinklang even though it’s a non-Pokémon-EX. You might want to consider Landorus if there are Gothitelles around because you can lock Gothitelle as their Active Pokémon with Landorus and then proceed to KO it with another of your Pokémon, and then lock them with Landorus again if they have a second Gothitelle.
Landorus is a very versatile tech, but it isn’t especially good against Klinklang.
Snorlax is my favorite tech in the deck if you run Scramble Switch. Without Scramble Switch, the Energy cost of 5 is often too high. Not to mention that Cobalion hits harder the more Energy you have attached to Snorlax, so often Snorlax just gets the one KO and then your opponent’s Cobalion proceeds to 1HKO your 5 Energy Snorlax you spent a lot of resources powering up.
In my opinion, the best way to get Snorlax as the Active Pokémon is to use Scramble Switch when your Kyurem is Active and has attacked once (and has fortunately not gotten KO’d). Getting two 1HKOs in two turns is usually too much for Klinklang because it doesn’t have any Energy acceleration. After that, Snorlax + Catcher just tumbles through your opponent.
High Kyurem PLF
With high Kyurem, I mean any count higher than two. Two is the absolute minimum for any Plasma list that doesn’t want to take an auto-loss from an anti-EX deck. With 1 Kyurem you will even get crushed by a Quad Sigilyph.
At the moment, my current Plasma list plays 2, but I’m very strongly opting for 3rd Kyurem if Klinklang gets any more popular. Granted, the Klinklang matchup gets easy if you go first and have a godly Thundurus EX start with Poison and Deoxys-EX, but that doesn’t happen in every time and in those games it doesn’t 3 Kyurems are really necessary.
I already emphasized the importance of Kyurem in my last Underground article and I believe that anyone who has tested Plasma would agree with me that 2 Kyurem is a staple for Plasma variants. More about Kyurem later on.
With a 3-3 or even 4-3 Accelgor line, this already easy matchup turns into an auto-win. With a 3-3 line you can keep on attacking with Accelgors non-stop and there is nothing they can really do. I would advise using 3-3 or even bigger lines only if you are sure to face Klinklangs because the space in Accelgor is so tight.
But to be honest, I don’t think that any drastic measures need to be taken as the Accelgor player because the matchup already is very favorable for you anyway.
Big Basics Techs
Playing Garbodor Correctly
Playing Garbodor isn’t a shortcut to happiness when you are playing against Klinklang. Klinklangs nowadays are full of Tool Scrappers because of Big Basic decks relying solely on Garbodor when countering Klinklang.
The correct way of using Garbodors isn’t rocket science. Just don’t play 2 or more Tools to the field at the same time unless it’s a must (like before Junipering). If you keep one Tool in play at a time, you will be able to keep the lock while making their Tool Scrappers pretty ineffective.
Even if they play 4 Tool Scrappers (which would probably make their list inconsistent), it still isn’t enough to counter all your Tools, if you attach them wisely.
Metagame Counter Counters
How do you counter Klinklang and Gothitelle while still keeping your deck competitive? As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’ll be focusing on how to modify what I feel are the two best decks of the metagame: Plasma and Darkrai. I also have by far the most play experience with these decks and have tested them from every possible angle.
Let’s start with a Plasma list that has an answer against Gothitelle and Klinklang while still maintaining a competitive edge against the rest of the metagame.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 37
Energy – 13
It may seem like overkill, but in the end it isn’t. Sometimes I long for even more Float Stones because this decks wants to attack on T1. Overall, the strategy behind Keldeo-EXs is not only counter the Status lock of Gothitelle/Accelgor, but also make Kyurem be able to attack for 120 (or more) every turn.
I was surprised when I first saw this in Japan and didn’t understand why would anyone play a deck like this, but as soon as I saw that Gothitelle/Accelgor won a tournament in Japan, I understood that it was a counter against the developing metagame. I’m positive that we’ll be seeing this kind of development in the Western metagame as well. Double Keldeo combined with heavy Kyurem count make a perfect counter for Accelgor.
The heavy Kyurem count is also very good – you guessed it – against Klinklang. Well, in fact, this deck tears through Klinklang so quickly that it’s not even funny. A quick Cobalion-EX can from time to time become a problem if you aren’t able to Poison them, but if they open with Klink or Cobalion NVI, the game will be a walk in park for you.
What’s also very important to notice is how good the Plasma mirror matchup is for this deck. In every game you will get a quick Kyurem and thanks to Kyurem’s first attack, you will be KOing their Pokémon-EX in no time. The only thing you want to be careful of is surprise Lugia EXs because they can really turn the game around, unless you are able to 1HKO them back right away.
Lack of Energy Acceleration or Recovery
Kyurem is probably one of the most underrated cards of the format and once you start playing with this deck you’ll notice just how good this deck really is. I have seen a lot more solo-Kyurem decks in Japan than in the West and I believe that the difference for this is the metagame.
The biggest problem for this deck is that it doesn’t have a real way to accelerate Energy, which makes it very vulnerable to Darkrai decks that can damage you at the same time as they Hammer away your Energy.
In the end, the only bad matchup for the deck is Darkrai, which on the other hand can make it completely unplayable in certain metagames. For example, the German National Championship was decided between two Darkrai decks and I believe they are fairly popular still all over the world. However, if you are sure that Darkrai EX is a rare breed in your metagame, this deck is a strong contender.
For a very long time this was going to be my Nationals deck until I found my true love. The deck is designed to beat 3 decks and 3 decks only: Klinklang, Team Plasma, and Gothitelle/Accelgor. It delivers against these decks in every single game and the only questionable matchup is Gothitelle/Accelgor if you get a subpar opening hand.
However, with normal opening hands, this deck just rolls through all three of the new Tier 1 decks with the cost of becoming vulnerable for the rest of the metagame.
Let’s take a look at the list:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 40
Energy – 10
Sableye is not only your favorite opener, but also the game-winning card against Klinklang. As I explained before, Hammer-spamming with a 3-2 Hammer line combined with Max Potion, which is searchable with Skyla, is more than enough to make mincemeat of Klinklang. In most games you won’t be even get behind in Prizes thanks to Catchers and Lasers.
These 9 cards alone give you the auto-win against Klinklang, but at the same time they are very good against Plasma decks, which are highly vulnerable for Hammers. The Enhanced Hammers alone give you an edge in the matchup and if you are able to flip at least one Crushing Hammer heads during the game, they will have an uphill battle against you.
Absol is good against Klinklang, but if you are using the Hammer-spam strategy (as you should), you don’t need Absol for Klinklang. However, against Gothitelle/Accelgor is where Absol really shines. They will have a full Bench in all games and Absol can 1HKO Gothitelle if you’ve spread previous damage with Darkrai.
Absol also gives you a lot of help in Plasma matchup because with Dark Claw and LaserBank, you are able to 1HKO all of their EXs except for Lugia. 1HKOing EXs with Absol is surprisingly common in this matchup and that’s one of the main reasons why German Nationals were won with Darkrai/Absol and not with straight Darkrai. Trading non-Pokémon-EX for Pokémon-EX is a topic I could write an entire article on (and maybe I will).
Double Keldeo-EX is the key to get rid of Status lock. Darkrai EX gives Keldeo-EX free retreat and Absol finishes the job as mentioned earlier. Darkrai EX is also a good option for that, because it can do bench damage thus damaging dangerous Duskulls and force your opponent to Deck and Cover their Accelgors instead of Mew-EXs, which will burn their resources.
Versus the Rest of the Field
As the deck is designed only to beat the 3 decks mentioned, the good matchups come with a price. For example, the Blastoise matchup is very difficult unless you get a god hand. There are no exceptions; if they get a good setup, you are done.
RayEels is about 50-50, but in some games your Absol can still turn the whole game around. A correctly timed 1HKO on Rayquaza EX with Absol is huge and will win you games. However, saying that the matchup is a favorable one would be a lie.
Big Basics is an even to a slightly unfavorable matchup because correctly played Hammers make a big difference in the matchup. I believe that Big Basics can also be Hammer-spammed to death if you are experienced enough with the deck. However, if you get into a dogfight with Landorus-EX, you are probably going to be in an unfavorable position.
It’s easy to say that we are in the midsts of the most exciting moments of the Pokémon TCG season. International National Championships have begun, new decks seem to pop up everywhere, and the Tier 1 discussion is heating up.
From my experience, everyone is also the most serious about Pokémon TCG at this time of year. It’s a tough competition and only several players will rise to the top of the hundreds and hundreds of more players, so in order to achieve that you need to be serious. You need to do serious playtesting and serious investigation of your metagame, but among all the seriousness you should still remember that it’s still a game and that you should be having fun at the same time.
So, if you already have your invite to Worlds Championships, or don’t have that possibility anymore, take Quad Snorlax to Battle Roads and enjoy yourself.
I tried to make this article short because my article next month will be huge. Yes, it’s that time of year again – time for my infamous pre-US Nationals article that will once again cover every single possible and impossible deck in the format as well as tips and tricks for tournament play.
I have my own Nationals just in two weeks! Can I grab my 7th National title? I am very nervous since I haven’t had any luck this season in tournaments, but somehow things usually work out for me in Nationals, so I’m looking forward to it. Wish me luck!
As always, remember to “Like” the article if it was worth the read! Also, feel free to comment in the forums if you have questions about anything.
Thanks for reading!
– Esa Juntunen
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