Hello SixPrizes readers! I am excited to be able to write at this time because, as we all know, the format has evolved. Catcher is now Pokémon Reversal, the new Turn One rules have come into effect, and League Challenges are happening all around the country.
With all this excitement going on around me, I couldn’t help but to start brewing up some crazy deck ideas. I have had more fun testing this format for a short amount of time than I had all of last format. This format has the potential to be the most wide open format we have had since I’ve started playing Pokémon competitively. That would be a little over two years now.
Before we get into the new format discussion, I want to go over my experience concerning Philadelphia Regionals.
Philadelphia Regionals Recap
First, congratulations to anyone who made it to Top 8 at any Regionals. After experiencing this new system for myself, I have to say, it’s a true test of endurance.
Here is the list I chose to play for the tournament:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 35
Energy – 13
There was absolutely nothing special about this list. It was a plain old standard Blastoise teched with Tool Scrappers to beat Garbodor. I could have pulled a Sam Chen and cut the Tool Scrappers for more consistency cards, such as a fourth Tropical Beach, but I didn’t have the guts to do it.
I’m glad I didn’t take the gamble that Sam did, even though he ended up winning, because I played against three Garbodor decks during Swiss rounds. There is no way I would have been able to beat the two that I did without both Tool Scrapper. Had I chosen to take the risk, I would have had my dreams crushed even sooner than they were.
I didn’t make Top 8, or even Day 2, yet I was still so tired from playing Pokémon all of Saturday that I could barely get up the next morning. I ended up going 6-3, scooping to Jon Bristow in the last round of Swiss when the game went to time. I was told you needed 21 points to make top cut all day, so in my mind if we drew neither of us would make it into cut.
With the current board state of our game I was most likely going to lose if time had not been called. Jon is a friend of mine, so I decided to concede the game instead of taking the tie to give him a shot at getting into the Top 8. Unfortunately, he missed Top 8 by one win and my efforts were all for naught.
After conceding, the standings went up. Jon and I realized if we had tied we would have both made Day 2. That was definitely depressing news, but going into Day 2 at 6-2-1 would have made it hard to make Top 8. If I had actually won my last round, or tied, and made Day 2, I don’t know how alert I would have been able to be anyway. It’s hard to play to your fullest potential when you are exhausted and sleep deprived.
Instead of having to stress over a full day of playing Pokémon on Sunday, I was able to go out to eat Saturday night and relax, so it wasn’t all bad!
I was reminded of a good lesson that weekend, a lesson which I seemed to have forgotten from my MTG days: always check the math on what record you will need to make Day 2. If you’re not sure how many points you need to make Day 2, play to win, and accept whatever your fate ends up being.
Had I taken the time out to check the math, I would have most likely taken the draw and made Day 2. This happened the last round of Swiss, and I was exhausted, not to mention hungry. If I were more focused and not so tired I don’t think I would have made such a critical and silly error. Luckily, Jon is a good friend, and roommate, so I was happy to cheer him on Day 2 and avoid going on tilt.
It is to be hoped that in the future Day 1s won’t be so long and grueling, and the tournaments will be able to be run quicker. I recommend staying hydrated, as well as eating throughout the day, during either day of a Regionals. Keeping up your stamina is key for such long tournaments.
Editor’s Note: I’d recommend bringing plenty of food and planning on no lunch or dinner breaks. At Philly there was hardly any time to go out and buy food if your pre-lunch break round went the full 50 minutes, and there were no other breaks given. Be prepared!
Now, let’s not dwell on the past, but look forward to the future!
There are so many deck ideas that have potential in this new format. With a format that is as wide open as the one we have now, I find solace in what I already know. Typically, how I approach a new format is by looking at what was Tier 1 last format, and evolve those ideas.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love creating new decks, as well as trying out already established new decks, such as Empoleon. There are so many decks this format it will be impossible to cover them all in-depth in one article, so I am going to cover what I have the most knowledge about and have tested.
Here is the breakdown of how this article will go:
Like with any deck, I would decide what to play based off of what I predict the metagame to be. I had discussed metagaming during Cities and smaller tournaments in one of my very first articles ever. I still find that information to be relevant now, and I don’t want to be repetitive, so I would advise you take a look at the metagaming portion of that article, which is also at the beginning.
I will start the discussion off with Blastoise, since it’s by far the deck I have played the most of in this new format. Starting with the car ride home from Regionals, I was already thinking just how good Blastoise will be in the new format. When I got home I jotted down a rough decklist idea for Blastoise and started to test it with friends.
Here is the list I ended up with:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
Finally, I was able to add in the tech cards I have been waiting to play in Blastoise since I was able to axe Pokémon Catcher. Let me explain what techs were added, and why.
This card was a favorite of mine during the Nationals and Worlds format because it gave me a slight edge against the mirror match and RayEels. In this format Black Kyurem still gives you that little edge in the mirror match you may need to win. He gets even better in the mirror match now that most Blastoise decks cut Catcher.
One of the issues before was this: when you attacked with Black Kyurem, your opponent would Catcher around it to take their remaining Prizes. Before, they were able to avoid the uneven Prize tradeoff thanks to Pokémon Catcher, but now, they have to deal with it.
Black Kyurem is also useful against Emboar decks that utilize Rayquaza EX, in the same way it is in the mirror match. If Garchomp decks start to pop up, Black Kyurem has your back. He will help you KO those pesky swarms of Garchomp, dodging the power of Silver Bangle, since he is not an EX. Sadly, most of the time Black Kyurem will trade one-for-one against Garchomp due to either an Altaria, or Laser.
Black Kyurem will also trade one-for-one, or better, against Trubbish if you play against Tool Drop.
Empoleon and Stage 1 decks featuring Eeveelutions are also reasons to play Black Kyurem. Against Empoleon, Black Kyurem will probably trade one-for-one, which isn’t that bad of a tradeoff considering it is not difficult to power up Black Kyurem.
Typically, against Empoleon decks, it is hard to trade two-for-one with Keldeo-EX against Empoleon thanks to Leafeon. If an Empoleon deck is packing Leafeon you must be very careful where you attach each Energy, as well as when you decide to use Keldeo-EX. If a Leafeon is able to 1HKO a Keldeo-EX that only managed to take one knockout, you’re in a rough spot. It’s fairly difficult to chain Black Kyurem EX’s Black Ballista attack, so having a Pokémon that can 1HKO Leafeon, and not discard most of your Energy, can be a lifesaver.
Against the Stage 1 Flareon decks, or whatever Stage 1 decks you may face, Black Kyurem will be a strong ally. Most of the Stage 1 attackers have 100 HP or less, making them ripe for a Flash Freeze. The strongest word of advice I have for players who play against Leafeon decks would be this: try to avoid ever attacking with a Keldeo-EX.
Jirachi is a card I wanted to play in Philadelphia, but I could not find the space for it. There are far too many games people lose off of having no Supporters in their hands, but have access to a Pokémon. In these situations Jirachi will be your saving grace, allowing you to effectively Level Ball or Ultra Ball for a Supporter.
This is a luxury I’ve been waiting for, and I’m excited to now have it.
Last format double Tool Scrapper was a necessity for being able to beat Garbodor, unless of course you are Sam Chen. Now that Blastoise is no longer playing Catcher, I have decided that a 3rd Tool Scrapper is needed to beat Garbodor most of the time. The matchup typically plays out as such, depending on what form of Garbodor you are playing against:
Scrapper the Tool off of Garbodor, and continue to take a knockout. Then you get locked again. Luckily no Catcher works both ways, so if you have a non-Black Kyurem EX attacker, they will have to deal with it somehow. If they are able to deal with whatever attacker you send their way, you are put into a situation where you need to Tool Scrapper again. If you manage to Tool Scrapper yet again, you can take another KO and repeat the process.
I find once I get locked for a third time, this is when the game becomes completely un-winnable. With a third Tool Scrapper available, the matchup becomes salvageable. If you manage to Tool Scrapper three times, the Garbodor player might not even be able to get another Tool into play the following turn.
Garbodor is incredibly strong this format. It counters decks such as Tool Drop, Blastoise, and shuts off so many great Abilities. With Catcher seeing less play, it will be even harder to get Garbodor off the field, so I expect to see it come Cities and League Challenges.
This Blastoise list, or any list I give you, should not necessarily be taken to a tournament as is. I want you to think about the expected metagame for whatever City Championship or League Challenge you are attending. Based off your predictions, adjust the deck accordingly.
If you find yourself struggling against Empoleon, and you know you will be up against a march of the penguins at the tournament, consider adding a Lightning attacker, or maybe even a second Black Kyurem.
If you know there will be little to no Garbodor decks, feel free to take a risk and cut Tool Scrappers. I played Blastoise with no Tool Scrapper in testing for a short time and loved it. I was able to fit more consistency and always seemed to do better. Of course, then I played against Garbodor and came back to reality.
However, for some of you Garbodor may be nonexistent, and you will be able to take full advantage of the fact. Last year around Cities, Hydreigon dominated the New England area because Blastoise decks didn’t exist here yet. If we had the optimal Blastoise list, and more people owned Beaches, I’m sure Hydreigon wouldn’t have ruled.
Ever since the Catcher errata was announced players everywhere began saying the same thing: “Genesect is going to be so good next format!” Well, they aren’t wrong, but I don’t think it will necessarily live up to the hype it was first given. It will be like Plasma. It was hyped a ton, and it did very well, but it didn’t dominate. It had various weaknesses which could be and were exploited.
Virizion/Genesect is the same way, and we are already starting to see its weakness now with all the Crushing Hammer running around. A solid Crushing Hammer lock will keep Energy off the board against Virizion decks for quite some time. This is the biggest weakness of the deck at the moment, barring decks that can use Fire attackers. One Ho-Oh EX with four Energy will run through Virizion/Genesect.
Now, I know all of this may make you not want to touch this stick with a 10-foot pole, but it is good against everything else. If your metagame has a small amount of Ho-Oh, Flareon, and Darkrai with 3-4 Hammers, it’s a strong play.
Here is my current list:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 38
Energy – 12
My goal is to be able to attack turn two every game, with either Emerald Slash, or Megalo Cannon. Follow that up with Virbank and Hypnotoxic Laser, and you have serious damage output.
I’m not sure if Tropius is standard in Virizion/Gensect decks, but it’s been strong for me so far. It is your non-EX attacker that can do a relevant amount of damage. Using Tropius will mess up your opponent’s Prize math, forcing them to take 7 Prizes… unless they are able to KO your Mr. Mime as well, bringing it back to a 6 Prize game, but that rarely occurs.
In nearly every deck that plays a Mr. Mime, it is a good thing if your opponent exhausts their Catcher or Red Signal to KO a Mr. Mime. If they choose to KO Mr. Mime, they are not attacking your attackers.
If anyone does not understand the tech Deoxys-EX, it is for various matchups. It’s used against Blastoise, Empoleon, Garchomp, or any deck that uses 140 HP Pokémon. Deoxys allows Genesect to 1HKO any Pokémon with 140 HP, as long as you have played a Hypnotoxic Laser with a Virbank in play. The extra 10 damage is crucial in these matchups.
Against decks that play 130 HP Pokémon, such as Plasma, it allows you to Megalo Cannon for 110 damage. On the following turn your goal is to Red Signal whatever you want to attack next and KO the Kyurem with the 20 Splash damage from Megalo Cannon. Of course, this doesn’t apply if Mr. Mime is on the field.
As I stated before, this deck is a strong choice for any given tournament, as long as Flareon, Ho-Oh, and Darkrai decks with multiple Crushing Hammer aren’t running rampant.
The quality I love the most about Virizion decks is this: they are very consistent. Nearly every game you will accomplish the goal of your deck, which is attacking turn two. When I play a Virizion deck, I don’t have to worry about the stress of not having a Rare Candy turn two for my Stage 2; all I need is Energy.
The most stressful situation that you will come across while playing this deck is when your opponent Crushing Hammers you on turn one, right after you attach an Energy. If there is one thing I don’t like about this format, it’s definitely the coin flips. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it goes in certain matchups.
Darkrai is a deck that continues to defy the odds, managing to remain relevant in every format since its release. Every time I suspect Darkrai will fade back into the darkness, it eludes death and puts up stellar performances. Around the time of Worlds I suspected Darkrai to die down, in part because of its poor Blastoise matchup, but of course it won the event. And I would have never have put a bet on the deck to win two Regionals in a row.
Clearly, I have not been the best judge of Darkrai. There was a time, around this time last year, where I played Darkrai almost exclusively, managing a Cities and Regionals win with the deck. Since then, I have not touched it outside of testing.
For this reason, I have enlisted some local experts on Darkrai who would like to share their thoughts with you. Of course, I have a Darkrai list, and have tested it, but these players have already put up results with the deck. They have more knowledge about the deck, and agreed to do interviews about their recent League Challenge victories with Darkrai.
An Interview with Angel Miranda
Angel is a player whom I would consider has the potential to go big this year. He is newer to the game with roots stemming from competitive VGC (check out Clash Tournaments). However, he has some serious accomplishments in the TCG, such as Top 32 at Nationals. He consistently performs well at smaller events and is bound to have a breakout run this season.
The League Challenge he won with Darkrai took place in Somerville, New Jersey, and had five rounds. His competition consisted of high caliber players such as Mike and Frank Diaz, Jimmy O’Brien, and Sam Chen.
Here is the list he used to win the League Challenge, followed by our interview:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 41
Energy – 10
Why did you choose to play Darkrai?
On the way to the tournament, I was just about set on playing Empoleon. I enjoyed the deck and the day before I got 3rd with it. I thought to myself Empoleon and Tool Drop would be more common, and I wanted to try another deck. I felt as long as I didn’t run into Blastoise, Darkrai would be the play.
The idea behind Crushing Hammer was to give me a better chance at beating Virizion. It’s also why I played Computer Search over Dowsing Machine; I wanted to be able to get my Crushing Hammers early against Virizion. If I played against Virizion the goal would be to try and Crushing Hammer their Energy before they were able to Emerald Slash. By the time Virizion would be able to Emerald Slash I would have at least two attackers powered up.
Of course, since Crushing Hammer is a flip this strategy won’t always work, but it gave me a chance to win a matchup that was normally not in my favor. The same strategy applies against Tool Drop, which motivated me to play it more.
Could you explain Escape Rope and the logic behind it?
Escape Rope functions as both a Switch and a Catcher. Because of how well Absol manipulates my opponents into having a smaller Bench, Escape Rope becomes stronger. Due to Absol, my opponents only put down what is essential. If my opponent ends up over-Benching, they play right into Absol. It’s a win-win.
I have had a few games where my opponents would be forced to send up Mr. Mime [off of Escape Rope] to avoid taking a big EX knockout, thus allowing my Night Spears to do Bench damage again.
Also, there are times where my opponents would send up their 30 HP or less Pokémon [to attack then be KO’d], when they don’t have Mr. Mime, so they take less damage from Night Spear. This is where Escape Rope shines. Escape Rope would allow me to send that Pokémon to the Bench and get KO’d from Night Spear’s splash damage [instead].
Why did you choose to play one Bicycle and go with the Supporter count that you did?
Bicycle was the 60th card. I had a free spot in my list and didn’t feel comfortable with 13 outs to a Supporter. I dislike Colress because my opponents would usually have a small Bench, and I don’t want to be forced to Bench extra Pokémon to draw more cards. I don’t like Skyla in non-Garbodor Darkrai decks especially when I play Random Receiver. I don’t consider Ghetsis a real draw Supporter, so that was out too.
This lead me to either Bianca or Bike. I felt Bike could help me dig deeper for Crushing Hammers if I needed to since I could play that, and a Supporter, in the same turn. I could also Junk Hunt Bike if I needed to. Bianca could have been a fine choice as well; it’s just preference.
How did your rounds go? Obviously they went well because you won! However, were there any difficult matchups, or was it an easy tournament for you?
Over five rounds, I played two Virizion decks, two Empoleon decks, and one mirror match. Honestly, there wasn’t a game all day where my opponent had two or less Prizes left. I felt like Empoleon was a favorable matchup, and I was able to hit heads against Virizion early game. The mirror match started off poorly for me, as I opened the game with no Supporter, but luckily he was forced to N. From there I was able to get back into the game, get the first Night Spear, and never let the momentum go.
I don’t want to say it was an easy tournament, but it wasn’t hard because I got the matchups I wanted. There were three different Blastoise decks there, including Sam Chen, and I managed to avoid them. Surely I would have lost had I run into Blastoise, but I was able to avoid it.
Thank you for the interview Angel; your insight is much appreciated.
An Interview with Jarod Morales
The next player I interviewed, who also won a League Challenge in the same area with Darkrai, is a much less known player. Jarod Morales is new to the Masters Division, and has yet to put up any huge results. However, he always seems to do well whenever I see him play.
Here is his winning list:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 39
Energy – 11
As you can see Jarod chose to go with a much different Darkrai list than Angel. He opted not to play the seemingly standard Hypnotoxic laser. Instead, he favored more consistency and the turn two Night Spear. Jarod told me he thought there would be a ton of Virizion decks at the tournament as well, nullifying Laser’s power.
Jarod opted to play 4 copies of Pokémon Catcher, even though they were errata. He claimed that the change did hurt a lot, as he whiffed multiple important Catcher flips. However, the ones he did hit made a significant impact, warranting the spots in the deck.
“I don’t like Bianca at all; I feel like the odds of an N down to one card and that one card being Bianca is kind of low. Running Skyla is huge in the sense that Skyla gets you anything from your deck at any point of that game. You can Skyla into CPU Search, or Energy Switch, and the possibilities become endless.”
“Junk Hunt is such a good option at any point of the game, and if you don’t have to apply pressure, then getting resources is the next greatest thing.”
Clearly, Jarod made the right choice for that tournament as he won against multiple top notch opponents. His rounds went as such:
R1: Frank Diaz – Ninetales, Accelgor, Suicune, Sigilyph
R2: Sam Chen – Blastoise
R3: Angel Miranda – Empoleon
R4: Mike Diaz – Tool Drop
R5: Sean Zhang – Virizion, Genesect
R6: Noel Totomoch – Darkrai with Lasers
As you can see this was not an easy field, which is why I trust the decisions Jarod made. I have to thank both of these players, and friends, for allowing me to interview them, and share their lists with you all. If the metagame is right, I would not hesitate to try either of these decks at a League Challenge or City Championship.
Big Basics/Garbodor is a deck that started to see a rise in play during the most recent string of Regional Championships. With all the new changes to the game, mainly the no attacking on turn one, it seemed that Landorus had lost much power.This is true, but that doesn’t mean Big Basics is dead. If your metagame consists of Darkrai, Ability-based decks, and little Empoleon, Big Basics would be a good choice.
Landorus is still very good against Darkrai, and Garbodor just got a whole lot stronger thanks to the Catcher errata. Before, decks like Blastoise, Darkrai, or anything that could deal over 90 damage would be able to Tool Scrapper the Tool off of Garbodor, then Catcher, and KO it. Now, Garbodor will almost never get KO’d and remain on the field.
Here is my take on Big Basics/Garbodor evolving into the new format:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 38
Energy – 11
Landorus is like Darkrai, in the sense that it has seen play in nearly every format since its release. Just like Darkrai, I think Landorus will make an impact on this format once people realize it’s still good.
Changes you could make to this deck would be switching up the counts on Trainer cards. If you find yourself struggling against Virizion and Darkrai, which you shouldn’t be, I would up the Max Potion count to three.
Also, I’d like to mess around with other attackers like Tornadus-EX DEX, but in the end I thought a third Mewtwo EX would be better. Some people prefer having the option to attack with Tornadus though. Bouffalant is your 1 Prize attacker.
Not only is Tool Drop an incredibly fun deck to play, but it is also very good. I am so happy Mike Diaz showed the world its potential. Now that Sigilyph can no longer be Catcher-KO’d, Tool Drop gets stronger. Mike wrote a whole article on Tool Drop, so I don’t want to steal his thunder, but I do want to show you my take on how I would evolve his Regionals deck for this format.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 39
Energy – 10
This deck is fun, fast, and strong. If you meet with a metagame lacking in Garbodor and Darkrai, I would play Tool Drop. I would say this deck can, and often will, beat everything meta besides those two decks. Trubbish may look oblivious, but don’t underestimate him, or you will get dropped.
This format is going to be unique from anything we have experienced in a while. I can’t wait to see how Cities unfold, and what new decks will spawn. This past weekend I attended a League Challenge, and although I did poorly, it was interesting to watch what happened. I ended up playing a Darkrai list similar to Angel’s, but lost twice at the hands of flipping foully against Virizion and drawing poorly against Plasma.
However, I was able to bear witness to a Sableye getting donked by Quad Heatmor, as well as watch a Shedinja deck win the whole thing. For reference, the winner, Nate Pare, was kind enough to let me share his list:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 37
Energy – 7
The goal with the deck is to deny Prizes. Nate told me he just wanted to have fun with this idea and he ended up winning the whole event. It’s definitely an interesting concept, however I’m not sure if it’s legitimately viable, but he did win with it. If Shedinja can manage to take a League Challenge, I’m excited to see what’s going to come out during Cities.
If you enjoyed my article please give it a “Like.” If you didn’t, let me know what I can do to improve. I wish everyone the best of luck during whatever Cities and League Challenges they play in.
– Raymond Cipoletti
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