Hey Underground readers! I’m back with another piece for you guys, my last one before the US and Canadian National Championships. These tournaments are coming up extremely soon (Canada is this weekend and US the next), so I hope to shine light on a few less-explored decks from a couple international Nationals that have already happened as well as give you my two personal favorite decks.
Table of Contents
- My Two Favorites
Although this National Championship wasn’t streamed like Singapore, there was still a lot of talk about it. After the tournament, one of the players who made top 8 at the event posted their decklist in the “Virbank City” Facebook group.
David Jensen’s Top 8 Weavile Deck
This is the deck that surprised a lot of players, and gave others who spent time testing it a hard time. The deck had come up in one of my testing groups, but was dismissed for being too clunky and struggling versus Garbodor-based decks. David seems to have proven us wrong.
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 29
2 Pal Pad
Energy – 8
This concept probably looks fairly familiar. Weavile/Exeggcute has been a well-known deck since its inception before Nationals last year, although the deck never really had a breakout performance. The big difference between this deck and the ones you may have seen before is the inclusion of Lopunny FLF, which allows you to return it and all cards attached to it to your hand.
With Lopunny going back into your hand when needed, Exeggcute also coming back into your hand, and a constant flow of cheap attacking Stage 1s, you’ll be hitting hard and fast. Each attacker in the deck only gives up 1 Prize, which is huge in a format dominated by Pokémon-EXs.
“Is Weavile a good play for US Nationals?”
Unfortunately, I don’t think so. The deck can have a hard time setting up KOs early in the game, and can fall behind if you miss an Energy attachment at any point. I think it’s a fun deck, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this may be for you. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone running this deck to a strong performance at US Nationals, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.
Richard Andersen’s Top 4 Empoleon Deck
Yet another interesting deck that made the top cut in Norway was Richard Andersen’s Empoleon/Miltank deck. Empoleon has seen a decent amount of play this season, primarily around Cities, but eventually lost momentum due to Thundurus-EX and Lugia-EX becoming dominant.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 34
Energy – 7
Rather than being paired with Greninja XY, this Miltank build focuses on Empoleon as a draw engine, as well as an attacker if needed. Miltank FLF has seen a fair amount of play since its release, and has proven to be quite powerful with some friends.
One of the interesting parts of the list is the lack of Professor Juniper, which has become common lately in certain setup decks. The deck can’t afford to lose valuable resources early to Professor Juniper, so it relies on N, Skyla, and Tropical Beach more. Aside from that, the only “different” card in the list is the 1-of Silver Mirror, which is a small out to the Plasma matchup that will be tough regardless.
Next up we have one of the most talked about Nationals so far: Singapore. There was a lot of discussion about this tournament online, and for good reason. It was one of the first Nationals to happen with the newest set (Flashfire), and had a few interesting decks that made the top. Here is how the top cut ended:
- Jit Min with Charizard/Pyroar
- Jeremy Leong with Flygon/Dusknoir/Accelgor
- Joey Ho with Yveltal/Raichu
- Nelson Chua with Virizion/Genesect/Raichu/Roserade
- Jonathon Lee with Yveltal/Raichu
- Jackson Tham with Virizion/Genesect/Raichu
- Alvin Nah with Plasma
- Vincent Lim with Yveltal
You’re probably thinking that’s a fairly interesting finals. The rest seems normal; a bunch of Yveltal decks mixed in with a few Virizion/Genesects and a Plasma. Since 3rd through 8th have been talked about plenty before, I’ll talk about the decks that placed 1st and 2nd.
Note: I personally commentated over the top 4 and top 8 matches of this tournament, if you are interested in watching the decks in action.
Jit Min’s 1st Place Charizard Deck
This deck has been kept a huge secret, until now. I was fortunate enough to get some information on the list, and am able to share it with you today. Jit asked to not be streamed to keep his deck private, which has caused a huge wave of people to ask “What is so special about it?” To tell you the truth, not much. Here is a list that is similar to the one Jit played:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 12
The list may seem slightly strange the first time you look at it, but it worked for Jit enough to push him over 1,000 Championship Points. I’ll try to answer some of the questions you may have:
It’s a weird card for sure, and not one that you would expect. The reason Jit played it was to threaten Yveltal-EX by hitting it for 120 with a Muscle Band, and to play a Hypnotoxic Laser, which, when paired with their Virbank City Gym, would put the Yveltal at 150 damage. From there, they either have to attack into the Magnezone-EX and get Knocked Out, or retreat.
It’s a cute, simple tech for one of the strongest cards in format. Personally, I don’t think it’s very strong. If Yveltal retreats, the deck doesn’t really have a way to hit the Bench (besides using Lysandre).
While this isn’t as weird, it hasn’t been talked about a lot in these Charizard decks. The reason Jit played Mewtwo-EX was to give himself an easy way to Knock Out a Garbodor on the Bench, just using a DCE and Muscle Band (and Lysandre). It’s also fairly nice against Yveltal-EX, and has the ability to 1HKO anything if you stack enough Energy on it.
“Why Tropical Beach over Virbank City Gym?”
That’s a good question. I guess Jit’s reasoning was that if you were going to use your Hypnotoxic Lasers, they’d normally be against Yveltal-based decks, and they normally play Virbank down for you. Otherwise, Charizard only needs a Muscle Band to do 170, which is normally enough to get rid of most Pokémon-EXs, and you have the Hypnotoxic Lasers to hit 180 when necessary.
The Tropical Beaches are good in the deck because they help you set up for a turn two Combustion Blast. They’re also nice for netting some extra cards while you wall behind a Pyroar for a turn or two.
“What about the rest?”
Overall, the list is different. It plays the normal Charizard/Fiery Torch/Blacksmith combo that we’ve seen get hyped over the past few months, as well as a heavy line of Pyroar. Add in a few techs and you’ve got the heart of the deck.
The Supporters are fairly interesting. Jit opted for heavy Blacksmith and Professor Juniper, while cutting down on a few other draw Supporters. The two Lysandre are very clutch for getting a knockout on Garbodors and anything that can touch Pyroar.
“Is Charizard a good play for US Nationals?”
I feel like it’s a decent play, as long as you know how to run it. I recommend trying the list yourself and making adjustments you feel are needed. It has some very good matchups, but it can also have a hard time setting up.
Jeremy Leong’s 2nd Flygon Deck
Probably one of the most unexpected decks that has done well in this format is Jeremy Leong’s 2nd place Flygon deck. Jeremy piloted the deck extremely well and earned his invitation to the World Championships after making top 4. His list was posted in the aforementioned Facebook group shortly after the tournament ended, but I’ll still share the list with you here too and explain why I think it did well.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 38
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 4
“Why did it do so well?”
The deck saw small amounts of play throughout the beginning of the season, but died off as Garbodor has gotten bigger. The deck takes quite a bit to set up and is somewhat slow, but Jeremy proved that the deck is capable of competing.
I feel like the deck did so well because it was unexpected. Players weren’t planning on playing against Flygon, so they hadn’t tested the matchup at all. Jeremy knew what to do in each matchup.
“Is Flygon a good play for US Nationals?”
I feel like it is still a great play because the deck has very good matchups across the board. It can handle Yveltal decks fairly well, thanks to Accelgor and Dusknoir. The deck is able to get around Garbodor as well by setting up damage early to create a big turn and take out the Garbodor with Dusknoir.
My Two Favorites
To start off, I’ll talk about the deck I’ve tested the most in this format, which is also one of the decks that has seen the most amount of success across the globe.
Without a doubt, I’d say this is the scariest deck in format. It is so easy to get a quick Yveltal-EX powered up and swinging for knockouts as soon as turn two, which can put any player in a bad spot. The deck doesn’t have very many auto-losses, and there are cards you can add to the deck to improve matchups and still keep a good amount of consistency cards.
Garbodor gives this scary deck a whole new side, shutting off any Abilities that could help your opponent gain an edge. The only problem for this deck is that it has a huge target on its head. People are trying to find the best counters for this deck, which makes it fairly scary to take into a large event. I still feel like the deck will have a strong showing despite all of the hate going for it, due to its consistency and ability to tear through a deck that isn’t prepared for it.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
This is my personal list that I’ve been testing, and I absolutely love it. There are a few cards I’ve had in and out of the list, but so far the list has performed extremely well and I am satisfied with the results it’s had.
The list plays very few Supporters, but still manages to stay consistent with the aid of Random Receiver and Computer Search. It also lacks certain cards that a lot of people like in the deck, such as Enhanced Hammer. I’ve tested many games with multiple Enhanced Hammer in the list, but I’ve noticed that it doesn’t impact the game as much as I’d like for it to. You won’t always hit Hammer when you need it due to the lack of Skyla, so you have to rely on drawing them.
There are many 4-ofs in the list that need little explanation. Going with pure consistency is the reason for that, and I feel like they all are very deserving of the slots. I also run a high number of Tools to help get an early Garbodor.
“Is Yveltal/Garbodor THE PLAY for US Nationals?”
It definitely isn’t a bad play. I feel like it has the best chances of going deep, as long as you manage to run well and stay away from some of its not-so-favorite matchups, such as decks with heavy lines of Raichu, which leads me to my next pick.
I talked about this deck in my last piece, where I covered my State Championships run. I piloted this deck to an 11th place finish at the Texas State Championship, which was the largest State Championship in the entire US (player-wise). Since then, my teammate Long Bui has piloted the same deck to State and Regional Championship wins to cap off his Worlds invite.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 33
Energy – 15
This is also my personal list, and I’ve been toying around with it quite a bit lately. I’ve become a big fan of the deck due to its consistency and raw power. I feel like the list has just about everything I could want in the deck, which is definitely a good sign.
The few differences you may see in this list from others is the 2 Enhanced Hammer, which have been very key against Yveltal-based decks, as well as any Plasma or Aromatisse variants. I also choose to run 2 Double Colorless, which gives you a bit of flexibility with the Raichus. It’s not always feasible for the deck to drop two Energy onto a Raichu in one turn, and the two copies give you a way around that.
This deck has very solid matchups across the board, although it has a few very bad ones as well. The deck struggles against any Charizard-EX-based deck, which may see a bit of play thanks to Jit Min taking first with it in Singapore. It also struggles against Emboar-based decks, which may not see as much play as they did during State and Regional Championships, thanks to Druddigon FLF. If you can manage to avoid those two foes, you should be able to fight your way through the top tables with this deck.
I hope you enjoyed this piece. Nationals is a very important tournament to myself, and I’m sure many of you. I look forward to seeing many of you next week, and I wish you luck!
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