The Road Not Taken – An Emerging Metagame

Spring Battle Roads are now over which means that the most prestigious tournaments of the year are rapidly approaching. Whether you were able to secure your Worlds invite earlier in the season, are putting all of your Exeggcutes into the top 8/top 4 basket, or are attending Nationals for the sole purpose of having fun, this article is intended to help improve your chances of achieving your goals at Nationals and Worlds.

Table of Contents

My Battle Roads Wrap-Up

psyduck dust
I’ve finally crossed the finish line!

After my success at States I had accumulated 398 Championship Points with only 18 of them coming from Fall Battle Roads. This meant that I would be aiming to pick up the remaining two points I required for my Worlds invite from Spring Battle Roads.

I am very pleased to say that after competing in 5 BRs my Championship Point total is now 434. My combined record for the first four tournaments was 16-3. For the last tournament I piloted my Gothitelle/Accelgor deck and had a rough day.

Round one I lost to my teammate who was playing my Darkrai/Sableye/Absol/double Keldeo deck. During the day I also managed to get my lone Gothita donked by a Giratina PLS. I also experienced the miserable pain of staring down a turn two Archeops NVI as I was playing at the bottom tables after my round one loss. At the end of the day my record was 3-3, marking my worst performance in a very long time.

Nationals News

US Nationals is always such an incredible experience for everyone involved, no matter how well you perform in the tournament. That is why I am highly disappointed by my decision to skip Nationals this year. I am making this decision to save money because of the expense of traveling to Vancouver in August.

Although I will not be attending Nationals this year, that does not mean that I will just sit back and wait to see the results before I start testing for the World Championships.

I have already played over 100 games with the Nationals format. About a month ago I set a goal for myself to play at least 500 games before I compete in Worlds this year. In this article I will be sharing the results of my test games up to this point as well as give you my current list for several of the best decks in the format.

Also, in case you have not heard, Poké recently revealed some shocking news concerning US Nationals. On the Sunday of the event there will be a “Last Chance for Championship Points” tournament. This tournament will be single elimination, capped at the first 256 players to register without 400 or more CPs and will give players a chance to earn up to 200 Championship Points.

I am not sure how much I actually like this idea solely because I don’t think it is very well planned out. There will almost certainly be much more than 256 players begging for a chance at those points. This also does not seem fair to other countries that do not get an opportunity such as this. Although this could have been planned more efficiently, it is certainly exciting news.

Deck Discussion


The first deck that I will be analyzing will be Flareon PLF. The first time that I became aware of this deck was just a couple of weeks ago whenever Kyle Sablehaus revealed it to me. However I never took is as a serious threat until reading Kettler’s recent article.

After building this deck and playing it for more than 10 games so far I have grown to love it. Flareon is my favorite deck to play at the moment.

Pokémon – 29

4 Eevee PLF 90

4 Flareon PLF

2 Leafeon PLF
4 Yamask DEX
3 Cofagrigus PLF 56
4 Ditto BCR
3 Audino BCR
3 Deoxys-EX
2 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 23

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress


4 Random Receiver
4 Ultra Ball
2 Switch
2 Pokémon Catcher

1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 8

4 R

4 Double Colorless


Vs. Darkrai EX

Surprisingly Flareon has what appears to be a positive matchup against Darkrai decks. I have beat Darkrai four times while only losing once. If the Darkrai player starts attacking with either Sableye or Absol during the early turns then we can very easily take a majority of their Energies off the board by 1HKOing their active Pokémon on the 2nd turn.

By the third or fourth turn we will usually be capable of taking out Darkrai EXs in just a single attack creating favorable two-for-1 Prize trades for us.

Vs. Plasma
Water Weakness makes Kyurem super effective against Flareon.

This one particular matchup for Flareon has been driving me absolutely crazy and is also responsible for me choosing not to pilot this deck for my last Battle Road of the season.

This is a very poor matchup for Flareon for a number of reasons. Generally the Plasma player will be trading their Basic Kyurems for our Stage 1 Flareons. This is a huge advantage for the Plasma player because it takes far less resources and effort to power up multiple Basics than it is for us to get out multiple Stage ones throughout the course of a game.

None of this would be much of a problem if only Flareon was not weak to Water type Pokémon. Because of this weakness Kyurem can dispose of all our beautiful Flareons for just two easily accessible Energies if they also have at least two Deoxys-EX on their bench. Without our Water weakness Kyurem would need three Energies (aside from benching 4 Deoxys then using LaserBank) to 1HKO our Flareons. If this was the case then Plasma decks would have a very hard time keeping up with the pace of a Flareon deck.

The auto-loss I was taking to Plasma inspired me to look for an innovative way to solve the Plasma problem. This is the best idea that I have come up with thus far:

Pokémon – 24

4 Eevee PLF 90

4 Flareon PLF

2 Leafeon PLF

3 Yamask DEX

2 Cofagrigus PLF 56

3 Ditto BCR

3 Audino BCR

2 Cobalion-EX

1 Exeggcute PLF


Trainers – 26

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Colress


4 Random Receiver

4 Ultra Ball

3 Max Potion
2 Switch
2 Pokémon Catcher

1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 10

6 M

4 Double Colorless

An Aside: Turning Negative Matchups into Even/Favorable Ones

Very often in the Pokémon TCG one of the greatest challenges that a player faces is how they should attempt to overcome difficult matchups for their deck.

Whenever you are faced with this situation I suggest that you start off by doing the following:
Write down the weaknesses of the deck you want to beat. Then test different ways of exploiting that weakness.

1. Grab a piece of paper and something to write with or open up a new text document on your computer. Now list all of the possible weaknesses of the deck that you are struggling to beat.

For example, my Flareon deck was losing every game against Plasma decks so I thought about weaknesses that I felt like I could exploit against Plasma. If you are struggling to come up with any weaknesses on your own, then think about the deck you are trying to beat and the matchups that are poor for that deck. This will often point to the answers you are searching for.

For this problem I thought back to my testing with Plasma to see if there were any decks that it lost nearly every game to. During the initial games that I played in the Plasma Freeze format I favored a Landorus-EX/Cobalion-EX/Garbodor deck. Plasma could seriously struggle to beat that deck because of the presence of Cobalion-EX along with multiple Max Potions.

2. Once I have compiled a list of possible weaknesses I will make a separate list where I choose all of the weaknesses that I feel like I can realistically implement answers for into my decklist. Then I will use this information to come up with the best solution.

The biggest weakness that I feel is exploitable against Plasma decks is the fact that they are so heavily dependent on Special Energies. Plasma decks struggle whenever they cannot keep a lot of Energies on the field because this severely limits their 1HKOing abilities with Kyurem and Absol.

The combination of Cobalion-EX discarding the Plasma player’s Energy as well as Max Potion erasing all of their damage can go a long ways in this matchup. Although I am far from sold on these changes yet I thought I would at least share with everyone this potential fix I have been working on.

Back to the Matchups…

Vs. Blastoise
Your answer to Keldeo, otherwise attack with Flareon if they front with Black Kyurem EX.

The Blastoise matchup can be very close. Once again Flareon does not enjoy being on the battlefield with Water Pokémon (not that it matters much since Keldeo does 110+ damage anyway) but this time we have a much more effective answer to our weakness in the form of Leafeon PLF. If the Blastoise player has just five Energies on their side of the board then our Leafeon can start Knocking Out Keldeo-EXs in one hit.

Another differentiating factor between playing against Blastoise or playing against Plasma is that we are Knocking Out EXs in this matchup meaning that we take 2 Prizes at a time instead of just one like we are usually doing in the Plasma matchup. If they forgo using Keldeo and instead focus on hitting us with an unrelenting stream of Black Ballistas then we can continue with our standard Flareon strategy.

If I had to guess right now which deck is the favorite in this matchup then I would say that Blastoise probably has the edge, but it seems close thus far.

Vs. Gothitelle/Accelgor

Unlike many other decks in our current format Flareon enjoys being paired against Gothitelle/Accelgor. Thanks to our three Audinos we can get out of being paralyzed letting us knockout their active Gothitelle. After eliminating any Gothitelles we will also be able to use our Switches and Dowsing Machine to overcome the Special Conditions from Accelgor.


I do not want to reiterate everything that has already been said multiple times about Darkrai so I will just want to show you my list and discuss a tech that has worked well for me.

Pokémon – 10

3 Darkrai-EX DEX

2 Keldeo-EX

2 Sableye DEX

2 Absol PLF

1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Colress

2 Bianca

2 Random Receiver


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Ultra Ball

3 Energy Switch

2 Dark Claw

2 Enhanced Hammer

1 Energy Search

1 Dowsing Machine


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 D

1 Mr. Mime PLF

This card is invaluable in the mirror match and against any Landorus decks you may face. The Mime can also prevent any bench damage that Kyurem PLF tries to dish out.

In the mirror match our opponent either has to waste an entire turn Catchering up our Mime to Knock it Out or give up all of the extra damage that they could have done to your bench for that game.

Plasma Basics (TDK)

Pokémon – 10

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Kyurem PLF

2 Thundurus-EX PLF

1 Absol PLF


Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Skyla

3 Colress


4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

4 Colress Machine

2 Ultra Ball

2 Team Plasma Ball

1 Max Potion

1 Life Dew


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

4 Blend WLFM

4 Plasma

4 Prism

Again I will just be discussing cards that are not considered to be standard in the average decklist to save you from having to read anything that you have heard multiple times already.

1 Life Dew
“Do the Dew.”

This idea came from former World Champion Curran Hill. Personally I had never actually considered Life Dew in Plasma but the inclusion makes a lot of sense when you think about it. This one card can potentially make a monumental difference in any game where your opponent does not have Tool Scrapper in their deck. In our current metagame the only top tier decks known to usually play Tool Scrapper are Blastoise, Eels, and Gothitelle.

Even if your opponent does have a Tool Scrapper in their deck there is always a chance of them discarding it early with a Juniper or prizing it.

1 Absol PLF

Absol is a card that many players seem to think is exclusive to Darkrai decks. Absol is a great in both Darkrai and Plasma for the same reasons. Absol provides us with an extremely hard hitting Pokémon for just two Energies. Absol is a very good tech in the Plasma mirror match due to it being able to attack faster than Kyurem and not having the limitation of needing to go back to the bench before attacking two turns in a row (like Kyurem would need to after previously using Blizzard Burn).


Pokémon – 21

4 Gothita EPO 43

1 Gothorita BCR

3 Gothitelle EPO 47

2 Duskull BCR

1 Dusclops BCR

2 Dusknoir BCR

3 Shelmet NVI

3 Accelgor DEX

2 Mew-EX

Trainers – 35

4 N

3 Professor Juniper

3 Skyla

2 Colress

1 Ghetsis


4 Rare Candy

3 Level Ball

2 Ultra Ball

1 Pokémon Communication

3 Float Stone

2 Pokémon Catcher

2 Max Potion

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Dowsing Machine


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

This is the deck that I have tested the most with. The reason that I like this deck so much is that it performs exceptionally well against Plasma. My current list is much different than any other I have seen.

3 Tropical Beach

With three Tropical Beach in the list we do not necessarily have to have as high of a Supporter count that most decks require. That is why I have been very comfortable with only thirteen in my deck along with Dowsing Machine. I greatly enjoy having the third copy so that my chances of getting a turn one Beach are very high. Although I prefer three Beaches, this deck could also function with just two for sure.

No Musharna, Town Map, or Super Rod
Cut for space to help our poor matchups.

For me personally I do not like wasting 2+ spots in my deck for something that does not generally have a great impact on games when I could be using that space to add in counters for my poor matchups. For this reason I cut Musharna long ago from my Gothitelle deck.

During my testing games with this deck I never seemed to have the time or bench space to specifically search for Musharna. Usually I would have a Munna wasting valuable space on my bench for many turns of a game until I finally naturally drew into Musharna. Playing Munna also gives us yet another Basic capable of being donked by a Deoxys-EX or Thundurus EX + Laserbank.

I have seen all of the wonderful things that Town Map can do for Gothitelle/Accelgor but still I do not want to spend the deck space on a card that is not really needed. Due to how thick all of my Pokémon lines are there has rarely been a situation where I am trying to dig anything specific out of my Prize cards. The same logic applies for Super Rod.

2 Max Potion

Seeing two Max Potion in my list may be surprising. However, these two cards have had such a huge impact that I could not see playing the deck without them anymore. Max Potion’s main objective is to give us a fighting chance when paired with Darkrai EX decks featuring double Keldeo-EX.

Thanks to Max Potion we can now stall a Darkrai EX deck long enough to get enough damage on the field to Knock Out a Keldeo-EX with Dusknoir’s Sinister Hand. Once we have Knocked Out one Keldeo all we have to do is Catcher the second one and lock it in the Active Spot.

Traditionally Gothitelle/Accelgor has a very tough time against double Keldeo because it allows the Darkrai player to constantly put pressure on us by being able to get out of paralysis every turn and attack our active Gothitelle. Due to this the Darkrai player is usually able to rid the field of all Gothitelles and take 6 Prizes fairly quickly.

Each Max Potion we play saves our Gothitelle for another turn buying us invaluable time to damage their field.

3-3 Accelgor

I do not recommend playing this deck with only a 2-2 line of Accelgor. This can cause too many problems to be worth saving two spots in your list. With a 2-2 line any of the following could leave you without the option of using Deck and Cover for an entire game:

  1. Both Shelmet or both Accelgor are prized.
  2. Your opponent Knocks Out one of your Shelmets and the other is prized.
  3. You are forced to Juniper one of your Accelgors early in the game then find out the other is prized.
  4. You could even get an opening hand that contains no Shelmet, 2 Accelgor, and your only Supporter is Professor Juniper.

Playing a 3-3 line also helps us draw into them more often without having to actually search for them and also provides us with a greater chance to start a game with multiple Basics, avoiding any turn one losses.

3 Level Ball, 2 Ultra Ball, 1 Pokémon Communication

level ball next destinies nde
Important for getting Basics out early and saving resources.

My biggest issue with the deck used to be getting all of the Basics that I need on the field turn one, but since I changed up my Pokémon search counts to accommodate this I have been seeing more success.

Ultra Ball is great for getting Mew-EXs, Gothitelles, and Dusknoir, but there are many times when I need to use my Ultra Ball to search for a Gothita or an Accelgor and I just don’t have the resources to waste doing so. Burning through valuable resources is one more reason why I made the decision to cut back on Ultra Balls to add in Level Balls.

Pokémon Communication can be a fantastic card for this deck considering we play such a high amount of Pokémon. However I have tried this deck with every different Communication count possible and the main issue that came up game after game was that Communication is not as reliable as Level Ball and Ultra Ball.

There are plenty of times when I find myself needing to play the Communication in my hand but simply cannot do it due to the lack of having a Pokémon to shuffle back. There have also been situations when I needed to save the only Pokémon that I had in my hand making Communication unplayable yet again. For these reasons I have decided to just stick with a single Communication for the time being and allow my reliable search cards to do their jobs.

1 Dusclops

Perhaps the most intriguing card in my current list is Dusclops BCR. Ideally we would want to use Rare Candy to evolve a Duskull directly into Dusknoir. This is not always possible though so having a Stage 1 that is searchable with Level Ball really helps when you cannot seem to find any candy to feed your little ghosts.

I can confidently say that I have already won numerous games that I would have otherwise had little chance in if Dusclops did not have my back.


path pokemon
The metagame is becoming more clear.

Now that Battle Roads are over for the year we are starting to get a clearer picture of what the general metagame should look like for our World Championships and once we have all of the National Championships results we will have an even more defined Tier 1 and Tier 2.

I will be writing again in July analyzing the decks that performed well throughout Nationals as well as discussing any unique rogues that may have appeared. If you have any questions or comments concerning this article then please do stop by the forums and let me know.

Until next time good luck at Nationals and I hope to see as many of our readers in Vancouver as possible!

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