With each passing weekend we’ve seen more and more National Championships come and go with subsequent results and coverage for each, but one country we haven’t seen any information from is Japan. Today I’ll be bringing you information on the two Charizard Mega Battles that took place last month in the Land of the Rising Sun. These events took place on the weekends of May 10th and May 17th, the first being the East tournament and the later being the West event.
In previous articles on Japanese events I have gone over their tournament structure, but here’s a basic overview if you aren’t up to speed. To get into the top 32 cut, each player has to win seven games in a row. Each player starts a “challenge” and gets paired with another player. If you lose one game, you have to start over at the end of the line and wait for a new challenge pairing. Once 32 players have successfully completed the challenge stage, the event is over for day one and day two begins with our familiar top cut rules.
As for the format, their “Standard” is Black & White through Flashfire with both Tropical Beach and Champions Festival banned. This creates some differences between their format and ours, but for the most part, excluding Eelektrik decks, their results should carry over to Next Destinies through Flashfire events very well.
Another important difference that Japan has is its age groups. Instead of splitting into three divisions, there are only two; the “Master League,” which is the equivalent of the Masters Division, and the “Junior League,” which is a combination of the Juniors and Seniors Divisions. This is one of the biggest reasons I attribute to very consistent high placings by Japanese Juniors at Worlds – I would even go as far as saying that the Japanese dominate the Juniors Division. Out of the last 10 World Championships we’ve had 6 Champions in the Juniors Division from Japan with another 4 placing 2nd. 2005 was the only year where Japan wasn’t represented in the Juniors finals and 2007 had both finalists from Japan.
A big difference between last year’s Battle Carnivals and this year’s Charizard Mega Battles is the invite structure in Japan. Last year, four Battle Carnivals took place throughout May with an invite to Worlds being given to the winner of each event. This was the only way to earn an invite, so the stakes were very high for these events. This year they have made an improvement, in my opinion. The top 4-of each of the Charizard Mega Battles and the winner of the Hall of Fame event, which is commonly known as Palace Format, receive invites to the “Nippon [Japan] Championships” this coming weekend of June 7th. At this event, the players who qualified through the main even will compete to finish in the top 4 and earn an invite to Worlds, while the two winners of the Hall of Events will play off and the winner will earn an invite.
Despite no increase in the amount of invites, I think that this system takes a better representation of skill from the players who earn an invite. On top of finishing with a great placing at an event the size of a United States Regionals, these players will have to prove their skill against only the best of Japan in their “National Championships.” Similar to how the best-of-three that has been implemented in the rest of the world, this both gives players more leeway for losses and at the same time makes the overall test of skill a more rigorous process.
Because of the nature of the situation, I won’t be able to reveal the specific decklists for any of the top four in each tournament out of respect for these players as they prepare for the Nippon Championships. In a future article I’ll be able to go over the Championships and hopefully decklists. Of course, I’ll give sample decklists for the more interesting deck choices and go over the thought processes and strategies behind them.
As always, thank you to Team Torchic for helping me with general information as well as Atutoshi Kubo for the Top 4 standings at each event.
Charizard Mega Battle – East Tournament
This event was unique in that a few American friends who were in Japan were attending the event. This gave me a better opportunity to get more information on the event as well as a perspective on differences from the rest of the world.
The metagame mostly consisted of Eelektrik variants and Garbodor with some degree of Pyroar splashed in. From what we’ve seen at other countries’ Nationals, this is very similar to the list of Top 8 decks from those events that I’ve looked at. One card that has popped up in Europe has been Miltank FLF, which is being paired with Stage 2s like Greninja or Empoleon. Miltank hasn’t caught on that much in Japan, but I think that’s due to Garbodor and a scarcity of Tropical Beach.
First off, the Master League results. Two of my friends and names you probably recognize, Takuya Yoneda and Takeshi Tosa, qualified through this event; Takuya winning the “Hall of Fame” tournament and Takeshi placing in the Top 4 of the main event. Congratulations and good luck at the Nippon Championhips to both of them!
Master League: Top 4
1st – Zekrom LTR + Bouffalant DRX + Raikou-EX + Eelektrik NVI
2nd – Landorus-EX + M-Kangaskhan-EX + Qwilfish FLF + Druddigon FLF
3rd/4th – Yveltal-EX + Bouffalant DRX + Garbodor LTR
3rd/4th – Zekrom-EX + Raikou-EX + Mewtwo-EX + Eelektrik NVI + Eelektross PLB
When I first looked at these results, two things caught my eye. First was the Landorus-EX + M-Kangaskhan-EX + Qwilfish FLF + Druddigon FLF deck and second was the use of Eelektross PLB in the top 4 Eelektrik deck. As Dustin Zimmerman went over in his article on how to best utilize Mega Evolutions, there are a few different ways to make the most out of the new mechanic. This deck seems to stray from the norm when it comes to how most decks that use Mega Evolutions are built. Although it has healing, the main focus is more about damage output than it is about staying safe. This was the most interesting part about the concept behind the deck in my opinion.
First, and most importantly, the 2nd place deck is extremely innovative and has a very strong synergy. Qwilfish is probably the one card that stands out the most, so I’ll go over the strategy behind it. M Kangaskhan-EX is easily one of the strongest Pokémon in the format right now, but the drawback of Mega Evolving is very risky. Utilizing Qwilfish as a punching bag, putting him in the Active Spot the turn you evolve your Kangaskhan-EX, gives you a safety net and sometimes a tough choice for your opponent.
Along with Virbank City Gym that the deck also ran, M Kangaskhan-EX would be in the position to Knock Out anything your opponent attacks with with only a single heads or a Muscle Band, with the exception of another Mega Evolution. This immediate pressure following the knockout of Qwilfish puts the Kangaskhan player at a huge advantage, unless the opponent has something like Pokémon Catcher, Lysandre, Escape Rope, etc.
Landorus-EX also pairs well with M Kangaskhan-EX, utilizing the spreading of damage with Landorus to put key Pokémon in range for a knockout by Kangaskhan. Landorus is also very strong in the mirror match or against other decks that play Kangaskhan. Mega Evolution’s high HP can be an issue, but the ability to take 1HKOs on opposing Mega Kangaskhan put you at a huge advantage.
Finally, Druddigon helps with the biggest threat to your strategy: Rayquaza-EX. With such a large amount of Eelektrik decks in the format and a majority of them being Rayquaza-EX based, this deck needs a counter to being 1-shotted every turn.
Mega Kangaskhan’s not amazing, but its slightly above average attack is made up for by its amazing HP. Keeping it alive for at least two turns is crucial for the deck to work properly.
Here’s a sample list for the 2nd place deck:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
4 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
Energy – 11
This is my take on the deck. Being able to switch between your variety of attackers in incredibly important in this deck and is the reasoning behind running two Keldeo-EX and Float Stone. Max Potion is very good with Landorus-EX in the beginning of the game and can also be used with Scramble Switch and Mega Kangaskhan for interesting plays late game. The original list ran Mr. Mime PLF, as do a majority of decks in Japan, but that is mainly due to such a large amount of Raikou-EX in the format that isn’t an issue for us.
The next unique choice from the top four was the use of Eelektross in the Eelektrik deck. Eelektross was a semi-common tech in the 2012 Nationals and Worlds format in order to bring up Vileplume from the Bench and get out of Trainer lock against the Mew Prime + Accelgor DEX + Chandelure NVI + Darkrai-EX + Vileplume UD archetype. I never saw it used in other formats before or since then, so it was a surprise to me.
Eelektross seems to be a counter to Pyroar more than anything else. There aren’t any other practical uses that I can think of, so that’s my best guess on its purpose in the deck. In this case, they used the Plasma Eelektross from Plasma Blast instead of the Slurp Shakedown one from Dark Explorers.
Junior League: Top 4
1st – Mewtwo-EX + Landorus-EX + Garbodor LTR
2nd – Yveltal-EX + Darkrai-EX + Garbodor LTR
3rd/4th – Zekrom NXD + Zekrom-EX + Raikou-EX + Eelektrik NVI
3rd/4th – Thundurus-EX + Deoxys-EX + Lugia-EX + Kyurem PLF + Latias-EX
These results are very standard overall. The Latias-EX in the top 4 Plasma deck seems like a pretty intuitive Pyroar counter because of both the Ability and its attack. The Landorus variant of Garbodor is interesting to see; it hasn’t been incredibly popular since States and Regionals last year, but it does a great job of beating both Eelektrik-based decks and Darkrai decks.
Charizard Mega Battle – West Tournament
There was a pretty large shift in the metagame between these two events. Despite the popularity and success of Garbodor, many players opted to use different decks. I was surprised by this, seeing as Garbodor variants are some of the strongest in the format.
As with the East tournament, players continued to bring unique and innovative decks with a good amount of success. Japan has always been known for their unorthodox ideas for techs or even whole decks going back to 2004 with Team Magma. One of the most exciting parts of getting results from Japanese event is seeing all of the new and exciting ideas that haven’t picked up steam in the rest of the world or no one else has thought of before.
Master League: Top 4
1st – Rayquaza-EX + Raikou-EX + Zekrom NXD + Rayquaza DRV + Eelektrik NVI
2nd – Accelgor DEX + Pyroar FLF + Musharna NXD
3rd/4th – Thundurus-EX + Genesect-EX + Giratina-EX + Landorus-EX + Kyurem-EX LTR + Yveltal-EX + Darkrai-EX + Virizion-EX + Aromatisse XY
3rd/4th – Yveltal-EX + Darkrai-EX + Dusknoir BCR
Once again the second place spot is occupied by a rogue deck. This concept is something I’ve been playing around with as well; the synergy between Accelgor and Pyroar is very strong. First of all, they both share the same goal of preventing your opponent from attacking or making them use a lot of resources to break the lock. Being able to Deck and Cover to promote a Pyroar is incredibly strong, giving your opponent two hoops to jump through if they hope to get an attack off. If their deck is focused around primarily Basic attackers, there’s little chance that they will be able to break the lock more than a few times.
Another strength that comes from pairing these two is that they cover each others’ flaws. Accelgor’s worst nightmare is playing against decks that run Virizion-EX, especially Genesect-EX + Virizion-EX variants. Pyroar does a great job of countering these decks through both its Ability and attack. After taking out a Virizion-EX tech, this deck usually has a walk in the park for the rest of the game; in most cases, their Virizion-EX is the only defense against Accelgor. As for Pyroar’s flaw, it’s obviously Evolutions and Basics that get get through Intimidating Mane. Accelgor can easily take care of a few Evolutions that your opponent might play or techs like Rayquaza DRX or Latias-EX.
Personally, I think pairing both of these with Trevenant would be an overall better deck. The Item lock vastly improves your matchup against Stage 2-based decks, even with only a 2-2 or 3-3 line. I haven’t tested either of these variants, so I couldn’t say for sure that one is surely better than the other, but Item lock with Paralysis always has a very strong synergy.
Pokémon – 20
4 Shelmet PLB
Trainers – 33
4 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
Energy – 7
I based the core of this deck around what I was working with for Trevenant last format, and I think the engine and strategy work quite similarly. Thick lines of your main Pokémon are very important to make sure you can keep at least one of each on the field at all times. As with the other decks I covered, Mr. Mime was in the original list, but has be omitted due to its comparative uselessness in a format without Raikou-EX.
Overall, the biggest flaw I see with this deck is the abysmal matchup against Garbodor decks. Unlike with Trevenant + Accelgor, you can’t Tool Scrapper/Startling Megaphone a single time and lock them from playing any future Tools. This means that they will inevitably be able to keep the Ability lock going all game. They can also Junk Hunt their own Tool Scrapper/Startling Megaphone and remove all of your Float Stone. Without Float Stone this deck falls apart pretty quickly. In general, this deck has some great matchups, but Garbodor is not something you should expect to win a game against.
The Thundurus-EX-based Aromatisse deck was something that was quite popular in the beginning of the NXD-XY format, specifically Singapore States, but fell out of flavor before it picked up popularity in the United States. The wide variety of attackers is a huge benefit in a format like the one at this tournament. There are counters to Eelektrik, Pyroar, Accelgor, and of course the built-in Energy movement and healing to combat anything that can’t take 1HKOs on your attackers.
One of the biggest flaws with this deck is getting set up. Getting a Thundurus-EX Active with an Energy, a Plasma Pokémon on the Bench, and Energy in the discard is very difficult, and without all this, setting up is incredibly slow and it can be hard to make comebacks. Getting enough Energy on the field is so important against anything that can take 1-shots on your attackers, such as Rayquaza-EX + Eelektrik, that you need a lot of resources to keep up with them. One benefit that you have against Eelektrik is Landorus-EX’s strength against Tynamo, but that isn’t always a viable plan.
The final interesting part about this top 4 was Darkrai-EX + Yveltal-EX + Dusknoir. Since Dusknoir came out, Darkrai-EX + Dusknoir has always had a small place in the format. I’ve seen it pop up here or there, sometimes with some actual success, but usually it doesn’t do too well. Recently, it’s been better and more popular than before because of the Pokémon Catcher errata. It’s always a very niche strategy that goes very well against some decks, but horribly against others.
In this case, I can see it doing very well against Eelektrik decks, which is what I attribute to its success. Being able to get a lot of damage on the field and move it to your opponent’s Eels can drastically put the match in your favor. The matchup against Eelektrik makes or breaks a lot of decks in this format, so it’s not a huge surprise that this deck made it into the top 4.
Junior League: Top 4
1st – Thundurus-EX + Deoxys-EX + Kyurem PLF + Absol PLF + Sharpedo PLS
2nd – Thundurus-EX + Deoxys-EX + Kyurem PLF + Rayquaza DRV
3rd/4th – Mewtwo-EX + Landorus-EX + Garbodor LTR
3rd/4th – Thundurus-EX + Kyurem PLF + Genesect-EX + Giratina-EX + Yveltal-EX + Kelded-EX + Darkrai-EX + Terrakion LTR + Aromatisse XY
Once again, we see Plasma decks doing very well in the Junior League. Each take on the deck is very interesting to me on how they chose to go about countering Pyroar. Sharpedo is the most obscure, but obviously does the job. Rayquaza DRX is more useful in other matchups, but harder to get set up when you need it against Pyroar FLF. In my opinion, Latias-EX from the East tournament was the best choice, but obviously both of these players were able to get their decks to work.
The Top 4 Aromatisse is very similar to the one in the Master League. The only notable differences are the inclusion of two non-EX attackers, which is a good call in my opinion. No Landorus-EX seems a little iffy, but the Junior League has less Eelektrik being played from what I’ve seen, so it might have just been a call based on the metagame.
I hope everyone enjoyed getting this information as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you all. My articles covering Japanese events are always the most fun for me to write because I’m learning about the topic just as much as you are. If you’d like me to change anything when going about these articles or have anything you’d like to know about, feel free to contact me or ask on the forums.
For the Nippon Championships this weekend, I’ll be sure to gather as much information as I can in order to write about it next month or the month after. Being able to get more in-depth information on the decks of each player and the results will hopefully be easier due to the tournament being so small. I’ll probably also be able to bring you guys some of these lists from the East and West tournaments as well as the Nippon Championships, especially those of the players who don’t end up qualifying for Worlds. If all goes as planned I’ll be able to get at least two of the top 4 decklists from the Championships for you all, though!
I hope all my international readers had a great Nationals if they attended and good luck to anyone attending South African Nationals or any of the North American Nationals! I’ll be at US Nationals and as always I’d love to talk to my readers if you see me feel free to say hi or start up a conversation.
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