Lately I’ve seen more and more players getting excited about building and playing past formats. One of the biggest struggles I’ve seen players encounter though is they have no idea what the formats were really like or what lists for different meta decks looked like. Previous formats didn’t occur during the information age we live in now, making it hard to find good content.
The other problem is that a majority of content that is available is poor in quality. Information and techs were so valuable that the better players were extremely secretive. Most lists that were given out were either watered down to protect valuable secrets or created by average players. For players that weren’t extremely versed in these formats, it’s nearly impossible to separate what little good content there is from the bad.
I don’t mean to put down articles that were from that period because when I was writing this article I had a lot of advantage they didn’t, including hindsight when looking at what decks and techs turned out to be the most successful at Worlds that year. I also had the advantage of discussing and working on many of these lists with players that were extremely versed and skilled with different decks, including Kyle Sucevich and Ross Cawthon. This article certainly would not have been possible without all of the help from a very long list of people and a full list of contributors will appear at the end of the article. This would have been nearly impossible in 2010 since many of these players would have been hesitant to give me insight or share their secrets with Worlds fast approaching.
I wanted to write this article for a handful of different reasons. Starting off, I want to give you a better understanding of the 2010 format and why it was so exciting to play in. The second is to cover the decks and my personal lists that I have built for each archetype. I also want to give players an easy way to get high-quality and trusted information from a single source. This is also self-serving as I too want easy access to this information and not have to dig around my computer to find one of these lists. Lastly, I wanted to preserve a part of my childhood and Pokémon’s history.
After 10 years of playing Pokémon competitively, I have a lot of fond memories from this game. Nothing brings these memories back like breaking out old format decks with my brother or my friends. Whenever I go back home, I love playing old format decks with my younger brother. I might be 25 years old now, but shuffling up Blaziken makes me feel 15 again and I’m also reminded of the small kid my little brother used to be. We both grew up and real life takes us over more and more, but there is still something special about going back to those times when we were younger and more carefree. This is why I went back and rebuilt a lot of decks, but rebuilding older decks is also getting popular among newer players as well. They enjoy seeing what the game was like in the past and many people are in shock at the depth or the skill the game involved versus today’s format.
My overall goal would be to do an article like this for every year, but this is a very lengthy and time-consuming process. Originally this was going to be one very long article, but as I was over twelve-thousand words with no sign of stopping, I decided it would better to split it into two articles instead. Right now I’m going to play it by year now and see how this first article goes. As this is a new process for me as well, I’m very open to your feedback.
Why the Nationals/Worlds 2010 Format?
First, the Nationals and Worlds format of 2010 was one of the best formats this game has ever seen. There were a wide variety of archetypes and many of the matchups were very close and highly skill based.
The format is also one of the least expensive “good” formats to build from and more and more players seem to be getting interested in 2010 particularly. Of course, prices fluctuate and increase the more and more players start buying the cards, but when I was building these decks I didn’t pay over $8 for any single card and a majority of the cards could be had for less than $0.25.
The other really cool thing is that rebuilding older decks is getting to be more and more popular, which means it’s easier to find people to play with at big tournaments like Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds. The cards are ironically both easier and harder to find. I see more and more people posting them, but the value of some of the older sets has been going up dramatically, which is actually pretty cool in the short amount of time that I’ve been rebuilding older decks. When I started, I was buying Holon Transceiver for $1.50 and now they are going for $7-$10. The ex’s are really starting to jump; even Troll and Toad’s buy prices are higher than what I purchased a lot of my cards for. I certainly don’t see older decks as an investment, but I do feel they will retain their value for quite some time.
I’m going to start with what many at the time believed to be the best deck in the format. I’m going to use the term BDIF very loosely because a lot of decks went right around 50/50 with it. It was such a dominant deck at the time though that you basically had to keep it in mind when building your deck.
Pokémon – 19
3 Uxie LA
1 Crobat G
1 Azelf LA
Trainers – 29
1 SP Radar
Energy – 12
I would explain the strategy of the deck as an even ratio between fast aggression and control. The deck has a lot of strong, low-cost attackers that can constantly be slammed into the opponent. It also has a lot of options for hitting the Bench and type matching the opponent. In a lot of matchups the deck can just rush early Prizes and still have enough steam left to steal the last few. SP mirror match, however, tends to be more a game of control.
3-1 Garchomp C LV.X
Garchomp was probably the strongest attacker in the deck. The LV.X gave you a lot of control over the board. Against setup decks you could snipe vulnerable Basics (like a lone Ralts) or hit their setup Pokémon (like Claydol GE). In the SP mirror match you could Knock Out their first Garchomp, having a huge advantage in “Garchomp trades” over the course of the game. You really can’t argue that 80 damage to anywhere isn’t broken.
The attack is also really easy to reset thanks to Poké Turn and Garchomp’s free retreat. Simply retreat Garchomp C LV.X back to your Bench and bring up another Pokémon SP, and use Poké Turn to pick it up. Afterward, promote Garchomp C LV.X and the attack is reset. Ideally, you want to bring up a Pokémon you actually want to Poké Turn like Crobat G or Luxray GL LV.X.
3-1 Luxray GL LV.X
The deck plays a full 3-1 Luxray as well to have access to another Pokémon that can just wreak havoc on the opponent’s setup. In some cases it’s almost easiest to set up Luxray GL LV.X because all you need is one Cyrus’s Conspiracy to search out L Energy and Energy Gain. Luxray really shined against decks that played Spiritomb AR, giving you the option to Bright Look up something on their Bench, allowing you to play Trainers. Having a thick Luxray line was critical for the Gyarados matchup as well.
Note: At the time many players opted to play 2-2 lines of both Garchomp and Luxray, but early in 2011 people realized it was far weaker. You had fewer good starters, and if your opponent got the first Dragon Rush off you would be down to a lone copy of either Garchomp or Luxray. We also play many cards to recycle the LV.X including 2 Premier Ball and 1 Aaron’s Collection.
3-1 Uxie LV.X
A main strategy of the deck for me was to rush Uxie LV.X and then free retreat it with Unown Q. If one player has Trade Off every turn and the other doesn’t, they are at a huge advantage. Uxie LV.X was also a great attacker against Gardevoir SW, Toxicroak G DP41, Machamp SF, and of course other Uxie LV.X.
1 Crobat G
As a Basic Pokémon it’s easily searchable from the deck in situations where you just need 10 more damage. It’s also reusable with Poké Turn, allowing you to put it back in your hand before playing it back down for another 10 damage.
Crobat G was not commonly used as an attacker, but was huge when facing Donphan Prime. Allowing you to Toxic Fang and being immune to a return KO by Donphan (barring a PlusPower or Expert Belt-boosted Heavy Impact) turned a bad matchup into an even/favorable matchup.
One of the biggest mistakes I see players make is running more than one copy of Crobat G. It’s not a strictly bad call; rather the second copy often become redundant and unneeded in an already tight list.
The card actually wasn’t horribly popular at the time, but it’s a near essential for the deck to run. Gyarados, Machamp, and Gardevoir are all considerably harder matchups without it. I would go as far as to say that Gyarados and Machamp were probably auto-losses otherwise.
This was another card that wasn’t a first pick at the time due to its only use being against SP decks. However, it can easily sway the SP matchup so significantly that you’re basically forced to play it. You could Knock Out almost any opposing Pokémon SP for a DCE and an Energy Gain. It also lets you answer Garchomp C LV.X without being forced to promote your own Garchomp. The fact that Ambipom G couldn’t KO Dragonite, but Dragonite could KO Ambipom is a big reason Dragonite seemed to be the better 1-of.
Remember that your Pokémon has to be Knocked Out by damage from the opponent’s Pokémon to activate Poison Revenge. If your Pokémon is KO’d by Poison between turns or an effect like Machamp SF’s “Take Out” attack, then you only hit for 20 damage.
It was just simply an easy Energy manipulation method for the deck that made it a lot easier to set up Garchomp snipes, as well as a variety of other situations.
Late game it can become of a liability if you’re out of Poké Turn and your opponent drags it up. I would always try to prepare for this by using the Power and getting damage on myself to the point where I could actually Knock him Out myself if I had to.
1 Azelf LA
We play a lot of key 1-of attackers, including both of our LV.X’s, so we have to run away to get them out of the Prizes in the event we end up Prizing them. The really hard thing is that you can’t play it down in the mirror unless you absolutely have to. I won numerous SP matchups by repeatedly dragging Azelf up with Luxray and then sniping around it with Garchomp. Another thing you would see is locking it Active with Roserade GL and then KOing it on your turn with Crobat G. This normally resulted in a 2-Prize swing.
Normally you don’t attack with Azelf, but situations to arise where locking an opponent Active for a turn can be huge. It’s definitely an option to be aware of, and you should look for situations where you can take advantage of it.
It’s probably about the best Supporter in the entire deck and gave you a lot of options in the early game. Commonly, players would just string them along and whenever they played a Cyrus’s Conspiracy, they would search out another copy. Nearly every SP deck ran 4 copies of this card.
You can use it offensively to reset attacks (like Garchomp C LV.X) or Powers (like Luxray GL LV.X or Crobat G). You can also use it defensively to pick up a damaged Pokémon and deny your opponent a free Prize. Sure, it’s limited to Pokémon SP only, but you can’t argue that picking up a Pokémon for free isn’t broken.
The deck needs to put a lot of early pressure on the opponent and Energy Gain lowers all of your attack costs by 1. You could almost describe it as a free Energy card for Pokémon SP. Most lists play 3 or 4 copies, but I strongly favor 4 since fewer copies can become an issue in the late game.
If you don’t think Pokémon SP already have enough broken support, we’ll go ahead and add a one-time canceling of Poké-Powers. It was strongest in the early game to stop a Uxie’s Set Up, but it was also very strong in the mid to late game stopping Luxray’s Bright Look or a key Cosmic Power from a Claydol GE. I saw counts range from 1-4, but I personally think 3 is right.
I always preferred a high count on Pokémon Communication because it added a lot of consistency to the deck. The deck already runs a high Pokémon count, making it easy to pay the cost. I also like that it helps minimize your hand size for Uxie and can search out Pokémon LV.X. Those are the two main reasons I opted to play the higher count of Communication and omit the standard Luxury Ball.
The split here always involved so much personal preference because it was so situational. The 2/2 split just seems like the best way to hedge your bets here.
A lot of the deck is built around both 3-1 Luxray and 3-1 Garchomp along with fast starts. Premier Ball can be used to search them out of the deck early if needed, but preferably you want to save it until you have to grab them out of the discard pile.
1 SP Radar
I liked the option of being able to grab SP Radar off of Cyrus, but normally I found myself going for Energy Gain, Power Spray, or Poké Turn. This is why I opted to play a higher count of Pokémon Communication over a higher count of SP Radar. With only a single copy though I would always check for it on the first search.
The one copy of Expert Belt has a lot of different uses in the deck. The main reason is that it near single-handedly wins the Gyarados matchup if you time it right. It’s also great for hitting key numbers in a wide array of different situations.
It was the most universal recovery card for SP at the time and searchable with Cyrus. I would say one was the most common number, but some players did try to fit a second copy in.
I think this is a bit more unique to my build than the standard Luxchomp, but I had a lot of success with the card. One of the main ideas of my build is to drop Uxie LV.X as quickly as possible and then put my opponent at a 4-card hand. With Trade Off every turn I’m sitting considerably better than my opponent is. This was great in SP mirror after they play a few Cyrus because it’s so hard for them to draw out of it. The real key was to having the Power Spray to respond to the Uxie. This combo seems really simple, but it won me countless games I was down in.
It was really strong against Sableye decks or Spiritomb decks. Switching cards weren’t extremely popular at the time and there was no reliable way to search them out.
2nd Bebe’s Search
If you expect to play against a lot of Trainer Lock the 2nd Bebe’s Search is a great addition. A 2nd copy increases your odds of drawing it and prevents you from Prizing a lone copy.
1-1 Dialga G LV.X
I didn’t run a Mewtwo LV.X counter just because it wasn’t popular enough at the time to warrant it. The only thing I really would have considered would be a 1-1 Dialga because they it can’t be sniped on the Bench and you can get it back with Aaron’s Collection.
Gardevoir from Secret Wonders has been one of my favorite Pokémon cards of all time. I took every chance I could get to use the card in competitive play. The different iterations of decks based around Gardevoir were always very skill based and you always had numerous options at your fingertips. In 2008 Gardevoir was probably the most dominate it has ever been, but I honestly think I enjoy playing Gardevoir in the 2010 format more. I especially enjoy the Gardevoir mirror match in 2010 as I feel there is less luck involved because there is less chance of either player just “going off.”
I’m going to start by saying there are so many different ways that you can run and tech this deck. For this article I’m going to discuss my list for the deck, but both Michael Pramawat and Mikey Fouchet did extremely well with drastically different Gardevoir builds than mine that year. In the techs section I’m going to take a look at some of the different options the deck has and cover some of Michael and Mikey’s card choices.
Let’s take a look at my list for the deck:
Pokémon – 25
4 Ralts PL
1 Nidoran + RR
1 Azelf LA
1 Uxie LA
Trainers – 22
1 Looker’s Investigation
Energy – 13
I’ll admit that my list for Worlds that year was not nearly as neat as this current list is, however hindsight is 20/20.
The strength of Gardevoir is in its ability to shut off the opponent’s Poké-Powers and tank. In the later stages of the game, it is quite possible to set up a board where your opponent simply can’t do enough damage to Knock Out any of your Pokémon while you constantly switch between attackers.
In the first few turns of the game you should always set up behind Spiritomb and don’t be afraid to sacrifice one or two of them while you’re setting up. The number Prizes your opponent has taken isn’t as big of a deal as it might seem. Your first Darkness Grace will always depend on your setup and what you’re playing against. Normally it’s for either Kirlia or Claydol, depending on whether or not you can get Gardevoir on your next turn.
4 Ralts PL
Normally if at all possible you want to get Ralts out of the Active Spot in favor of Spiritomb. However, if you’re stuck with Ralts then using Future Sight is far from the worst turn 1 for the deck. Usually you’ll want to use it on yourself, ideally looking for a turn 2 Psychic Lock, but if you think your opponent has a weak start you can try and lock them out of the game.
A group of Colorado players did quite well at Nationals this year with a deck built around hitting T2 Gardevoir. They relied more on Ralts and Future Sight than on using Spiritomb.
I want to note that Kirlia actually has a hit-and-run attack, so you can hit for 30 (or 50 with an Expert Belt) and then switch back to the Bench and most likely promote Spiritomb. This can set up some big plays if you are going to 2HKO the opponent anyway.
You’re going to spend nearly the entire game saying the phrase “Psychic Lock” over and over again. The entire deck is built around setting up Gardevoir, protecting it, healing it, and making it stronger. It’s important to set up multiple Gardevoirs so you have the option to switch between them or you have another one ready in case one gets Knocked Out.
Really try to get to know your opponent’s deck, their options, and most importantly how much damage they can do. It’s important to know whether or not they can Knock Out your Gardevoir on their next turn. There is nothing wrong with switching back to a Spiritomb in the mid game if you need another turn to heal.
I really don’t need to explain how broke Telepass is or how it’s useful. Just make sure to take advantage of it every turn. If nothing else, it can be great deck thinning by grabbing useless cards out of your deck with Roseanne’s or Collector so you don’t draw into them.
Bring Down added a bit of versatility to a very linear deck and was always an option to be aware of. The main strength of the LV.X though in my opinion was the extra 20 HP and ability to freely switch back to the Bench or become Active again. This made it very easy to set up Azelf LV.X or simply switch to another Gardevoir. If you attach an Expert Belt to Gardevoir LV.X, you have a 150 HP tank shutting of Powers.
The deck puts a much smaller emphasis on Gallade than there was in 2008. Without Double Rainbow or Scramble Energy, Gallade is pretty investment heavy and easy to KO. He is a really situational attacker and in a lot of games you may never even set him up.
The one copy is extremely important in some matchups like Regigigas, Tyranitar, and Gyarados, while the situation could arise in any other matchup where you might need a big 1HKO. Being a Fighting type gave it a bit more versatility in the deck. It combos really well with Expert Belt for more damage and 150 HP is rather hard to KO.
1-1-1 Dusknoir DP
Running Dusknoir in Gardevoir might not have been uncommon, but running the 1 Dusclops surely was. I stole this idea from Michael Pramawat and I feel like it was single-handedly the biggest reason for his success at Worlds that year.
Since many decks set up behind Spiritomb, they would often fill their Benches knowing the opponent could not Rare Candy/Dusknoir and at the time nobody played Dusclops. What Michael would do is play along and set up under his own Spiritomb and then when he was ready he would drop Duskull and then use its held item to go directly into Dusclops and then Darkness Grace into Dusknoir.
This did several different things, the first of which was it allowed Michael to shuffle back in the threats the opponent had spent the last few turns building up. Second of all, and most importantly, it forced the opponent to make the first move. Normally the person who retreated their Spiritomb and attack first was put at a huge disadvantage. They would score a KO on a meaningless Spiritomb while the opponent would get to hit an actual threat.
1-0-1 Nidoqueen RR
Nidoqueen is the main component of the “tank Gardevoir” strategy as it allowed unlimited healing. With Gardevoir shutting off Poké-Powers, you knew how much damage your opponent could do each turn and then know how much a Gardevoir needed to be healed before it could attack again.
1-1 Claydol GE
I went with Baltoy SV (like Pramawat did) because of the synergy with Moonlight Stadium. The Baltoy GE brings a bit more consistency to the deck in a pinch, but if you’re attacking with Baltoy you’re in a pretty bad spot anyway.
The deck only plays a 1-1 Claydol due to room and a 2-2 would be ideal. The 1-1 is more manageable with Gardevoir’s Power. The deck also needs very little resources in the late game when it sets up. At the time I would say 2-2 was the most common, but the more I played the deck the more comfortable I felt with the 1-1 line.
1-1 Azelf LV.X
I’ve already explained how at the start of the game you’re going to want to hide behind Spiritomb while you set up. Something I want to add though is against SP decks with Spiritomb Active they can’t Power Spray. A common play would be to use Gardevoir LV.X to Teleport back to Spiritomb so you can use your Powers safely. Afterward retreat Spiritomb back for Gardevoir LV.X and continue like normal.
On the surface Unown G might not look very impressive, but it has a ton of uses. The first is that stops your opponent from locking a Spiritomb in the Active Spot with attacks that would stop you from retreating like Chatot MD’s “Chatter” attack. It stops your opponent from dragging up Claydol on the Bench with attacks like Blaziken FB’s “Alluring Flame” attack. Lastly, in matchups like Cursegar, it stopped Gengar SF from placing damage counters with its “Shadow Room” attack. Most Stage 2 decks at the time ran at least 1 copy of Unown G and some ran 2.
Playing 4-of each gives the deck 8 strong early game consistency options. I just want to note with such a huge focus of Spiritomb the deck opts to play more Supporter search and less Trainer search.
2 Judge, 1 Looker’s Investigation
That year you saw all sort of different splits on this, normally either 2/1 one way or the other with another common option being to go just 3 Judge. I think Judge is overall better card as it hits you too (which is normally better) and it puts your opponent at 4 instead of 5 (which is also a big deal). The advantage of Lookers is it lets you see the opponent’s hand and then you can decide, so if you let them keep it you have a better idea of what their options are and how to play around them.
It was extremely important to be able to get the extra damage to hit key numbers. The extra Hit Points were also crucial in tanking Gardevoir and keep it alive from 1HKOs. To put it simply, the deck would not have been viable without this card.
Once again I opted to not play Luxury Ball since the deck plays so many Pokémon it always easy to pay the cost. Once again, lowering your hand size and searching out Pokémon LV.X also factored into this decision.
Surprisingly enough at the time Moonlight Stadium was not very popular and really didn’t see any play. Looking back I feel really dumb I didn’t notice just how broken this card was. It gave almost every Pokémon free retreat and made it easy to switch between Gardevoirs or level up Azelf in the matchups you needed it.
5 P Energy
Playing only 5 P Energy might look low on paper, but it works fine. It just requires careful play and awareness of how many Energy you have left and where they are at.
Another card that got a last-minute cut from my list. Being able to freely move Energy is obviously good, but it was another cut for room. I always saw Lucian’s Assignment as something that would be nice to have, but never a crucial card.
I would like a single copy of Warp Point in the deck for switching or disruption. The deck plays fine without it though since most of your Pokémon can be retreated with Moonlight Stadium or DCE in a pinch.
The Night Maintenance vs. Palmer’s debate came up a lot at the time. The 5 vs. 3 retrieval didn’t really matter, it was more that Palmers was searchable with Gardevoir against SP decks after they played Cyrus. I played Palmer’s that year, but I really wish I would have played Night Maintenance.
Next, I want to take a look at the deceptively simple Gyarados deck. The strength of the deck comes from its ability to constantly stream 130/150 HP Gyarados every turn hitting for 90/110 damage or even more with Crobat G and Poké Turn. It’s such a hard deck to play against because the Gyarados just never stop coming. Another big strength of the deck is its ability to keep the AMU lock in place, allowing it to have an extremely strong match up against SP decks.
You would see some slight difference between lists, but for the most part they were all within a few cards of each other.
Let’s start off by taking a look at my list:
Pokémon – 23
2 Uxie LA
1 Azelf LA
1 Azelf MT
2 Crobat G
Trainers – 33
Energy – 4
The main strategy of the deck was to use Sableye to go first and set up. Usually you want to use Impersonate to grab a Pokémon Collector for 2 Magikarp then usually either a Regice or a Uxie, but this could vary. Next you try to get 3 Magikarp in the discard pile by discarding them with cards like Regice or Felicity’s Drawing (which you could also Impersonate). Gyarados hits for 30 damage for each Magikarp in the discard pile, so with 3 discarded you’re hitting for 90 damage. On top of that, add 20 more for Expert Belt and combo in Crobat G and Poké Turn and you had the ability to 1HKO anything in the format.
When your Gyarados is Knocked Out (so you have 4 Magikarp in the discard pile), use Pokémon Rescue or Combee to get a Magikarp back and then evolve directly into Gyarados via Broken Time-Space. Simply rinse and repeat this combo for the entire game and eventually wear your opponent down.
This is your preferred starter and it allows you to go first. Playing 4 simply maximized your odds of opening with it.
4-3 Gyarados SF
You would see some decks play a full 4 copies of Gyarados, but a 4-3 line was the most popular. The 4th Gyarados really wasn’t needed; a 4th Pokémon Rescue or even adding in a Time-Space Distortion would have been stronger (something that lets you get back either Gyarados or Magikarp). The only time you really missed the 4th Gyarados was against Trainer lock decks.
1 Azelf MT
If you have Azelf MT, Uxie, and Mesprit in play all of your opponent’s Basic Pokémon take one more C Energy to attack. It was a broken effect against SP decks and this one card could single-handedly shift matchups in your favor. One of the biggest strengths of Gyarados was since it ran 4 Pokémon Rescue, SP decks couldn’t just snipe one of the combo pieces because it was so easy to get it back. It was also slightly useful against setup decks because you could force them to commit the Energy to Spiritomb to be able to Darkness Grace.
Mainly this was in the deck for the AMU lock, but being able to shut off the opponent’s Powers for a turn was huge if you timed right. I won’t go into the situations, but it was useful in every matchup.
2 Crobat G
You actually find that the extra damage does really come into play with Gyarados, so it does warrant running the 2nd Crobat G. I also feel like the deck does have the Bench space for it unlike most of the SP decks. Lastly, Gyarados constantly needs a Pokémon on the Bench with free retreat, so when your Active Gyarados gets Knocked Out you can promote something you can retreat back when you have a fresh Gyarados set up.
1-1 Luxray GL LV.X
Because of the necessity of Crobat G to the deck, it already plays 4 Poké Turn. The addition of a 1-1 Luxray is just a natural addition to the deck that allows it to be a bit more versatile and choose its targets better.
Luxray is an all around good card that lets the deck drag up threats or support Pokémon like Claydol. Shutting down a setup deck’s source of draw is a major hit to the opponent. Some lists tried to play Pokémon Reversal instead, but Luxray is easy to set up and requires no coin flip.
The main reason to play Combee is so you’re able to get back a Magikarp under Trainer lock like Keystone Seal or Deafen. It’s also really nice to be able to grab it with Pokémon Collector. Remember, since it’s not a Poké-Power it can’t be Power Sprayed.
Basically the deck really needed to play a Pokémon that it can grab off Pokémon Collector that as a Power lets you discard. Regice was simply the best of the three Legendaries with the discarding abilities.
The ability to move a Basic Pokémon out of the Active Spot can really come in handy for the deck. It can force Spiritomb out of the Active Spot early so you can play your essential Trainers, move a Pokémon your opponent is trying to sacrifice into an ideally better target, or in the late game move something Gyarados can’t 1HKO into a Pokémon Gyarados can 1HKO.
The deck plays so few Energy it needs a reliable way to retreat Sableye.
The main reason the deck plays it is to recover Magikarp when Gyarados gets Knocked Out, but it’s really versatile in letting you get back Gyarados, Azelf MT, or any other Pokémon in your discard pile you might need. It’s really important to replace a Gyarados as soon as it’s Knocked Out so maximizing Pokémon Rescue is key.
This is just another really versatile card the deck runs that is useful in so many different situations. You can either pick up a damaged Gyarados and instantly throw it back down because of Broken Time-Space, reuse a pixie, or reset Combee. It can also be used a Switching card if your opponent is trying to stall by dragging about something on your Bench. Sure, it’s a flip card, but even if you only hit 2/4 each game that still two times your deny your opponent a Prize. Super Scoop Up is a game-winning card and warrants 3 or 4 spots in the deck.
This is the card that makes the entire deck actually works. It allows you to evolve the same turn you put a Pokémon into play, so you could use Pokémon Rescue to grab back Magikarp and then evolve directly into Gyarados in the same turn. If the deck had to wait a turn to evolve and leave a vulnerable Magikarp on the Bench it simply wouldn’t work.
Most likely 3 Broken Time-Space would have been plenty, but the deck really needs to get it into play early and keep it in play. Against decks that did actually play Stadiums (which wasn’t very common at the time), you could find yourself in trouble if they hit a counter Gym at the right time or you drew badly off of a Judge. Only 3 copies also leaves you a little more vulnerable to it being hard to draw into if you Prize a copy.
Even in this format, 90 damage really wasn’t that impressive and the deck relied on damage modifiers like Expert Belt and Crobat G to score big 1HKOs. Expert Belt also combed well with Super Scoop Up giving Gyarados a bit more survivability.
We finally have a list where we do play Luxury Ball. We run a high enough Pokémon count where we could justify Pokémon Communication, but the only card it searches out is Luxray GL LV.X. A lot of the time the dead Pokémon cards in my hand like extra copies of Sableye I want to pitch with cards like Felicity’s Drawing or Regice and not put them back in the deck.
Trainer lock was a really big deal for the deck throughout the game. It was really easy to use Sableye to get Bebe’s Search when you needed it early game. The 2nd copy might be a little bit redundant, but Trainer lock was such a big problem for the deck you couldn’t risk a lone copy of Bebe’s Search being Prized.
1 Judge, 1 Cynthia’s Feelings
It’s pretty obvious the strength of both of these cards, but I really wanted to point out just how well they combo with Sableye. It wasn’t very common to see 1-of’s with Supporters much, but since Sableye could pull them out of the deck in the situations you needed them, Gyarados could get away with it. They also combed really well VS Seeker, so you could get them back when you needed them. Ideally I would run 2 copies of each, but that’s just not feasible with space, so we settle for 1 copy of both and a VS Seeker.
The deck plays an extremely diverse Supporter lineup, so I like how VS Seeker can choose a Supporter tailored to the situation. Since the deck relies so much on Sableye in the early game, VS Seeker is rarely a dead card. Originally I had 2 copies in the list, but the 2nd one got the cut in the interest of room.
The deck basically needs something that can get stuff out of the Active Spot, otherwise it would be too easy for decks like Luxchomp to simply drag up Regice and snipe around it. Warp Energy can play under Trainer lock and can be recycled with Super Scoop Up. Being able to switch back to the Bench easily is important to get out of Special Conditions and also to set up big plays with Luxray GL LV.X.
Most lists played 3 Cyclone Energy and I would like at least 2 copies in the deck, but the extra copies got dropped in favor of a 2nd Uxie and a 4th Broken Time-Space. Since the deck can so easily stream Gyarados it doesn’t really care what it Knocks Out as long as it gets a KO. Cyclone is useful in hopefully forcing the opponent to bring up something Gyarados can KO. This is extremely useful in the late game when you only need to steal 1 or 2 Prizes to win the game.
Cyclone Energy is also good for forcing the opponent to switch Spiritomb out of the Active Spot so you can play Trainers again. This is why when playing against Gyarados it’s important for set up decks to have at least 2 Spiritomb in play at a time.
Suicune seems like the clearly better choice over Combee because you can get back both Magikarp and a Gyarados at once, but the difference is Aqua Recover is a Pokémon Power, so it can be Power Sprayed or shut off with Gardevoir or Mesprit. I don’t even know if I would call it personal preference because I feel Combee is all around better, but Suicune did see some play.
This is something I really wanted to try in the deck, but could never really find the room. The deck already runs 4 Sableye and 2 Crobat along with Poké Turn, so Special D Energy seems like a natural addition to the deck. It really helps against early-game Spiritomb and helps Gyarados put on early-game pressure, which is something that the deck struggles to do.
Some players get in the mentality that more expensive also always means better. The thing is though, normally Gyarados just needed 1 Pokémon back and couldn’t take the chance of getting 3 tails (or 3 heads).
Pokémon – 19
3 Uxie LA
1 Azelf LA
1 Azelf MT
1 Crobat G
Trainers – 28
Energy – 13
Regigigas saw a very limited amount of play during the 2010 season even though I consider it one of the top decks in the format. The big reason was it was so hard to come up with a good list, and even with a good list it was so hard to play the matchups correctly. A lot of players built the deck and easily gave it up after having less than stellar testing results. My lists back in the day were horrendous compared to my current list I’m going to share with you. A lot of help from this list came from Jaron Deacon and from looking at Dennis Hawk’s list that he made top 16 at Worlds with that year.
The deck had so many little tricks that it’s hard to give one concrete strategy. To try and sum it up though, I would say the main idea is to tank with Regigigas while Power locking the opponent with Mesprit. When I discuss individual cards I’ll talk about different plays and a lot of the little things the deck is capable of.
One of the most common mistakes that players made was they were using the wrong Regigigas. A majority of us didn’t even know about the Drag Off Regigigas because it came in a European booster bundle and was hard for US players to get (like Landorus BW79). With an Expert Belt you were hitting for 50 damage, which would allow you to 1HKO a lot of Basics or 2HKO Bench-sitters like Claydol. You could even use the attack to stall a turn and force your opponent to have a switching card. Against SP decks, an Expert Belt would allow you to bring up a Garchomp C and 1HKO it due to Weakness.
A lot of players opted to play 3-1 Regigigas, but the better players opted to play 2-2. The risk of Prizing your 1 Regigigas and then having your Azelf Power Sprayed was a concern, as was instantly having a way to recover the LV.X. With a beefy 100 Hit Points it was very hard for the opponent to Knock it Out in one hit.
The entire idea behind the deck was to get this guy in play with an Expert Belt and just tank him. The Poké-Power lets you sacrifice one of your other Pokémon (your opponent does get the Prize) to remove 8 damage counters from Regigigas and then you get to attach 2 basic Energy from your discard pile to Regigigas as well. Knocking Out your own Pokémon might sound bad, but the deck is built around taking advantage of that. It really let you control your Bench and free up Bench spaces when you needed to. It also combed really well with Time-Space Distortion, which I’ll talk about it in a bit.
The Energy acceleration also provided by the Poké-Power was huge in the early game to rush Regigigas. With a good hand you could hit for 100 damage on T2, although this certainly wasn’t common. You could also make a lot of cool little trick plays such as retreating Regigigas to get out of a Special Condition an than using Sacrifice to knockout your own Active Pokémon so you could promote Regigigas again. The same play could also be made with Warp Point as a way to get Regigigas back in the Active Spot. It’s a lot of these really cool little plays that made the deck so fun and at the same time hard to play.
3-1 Uxie LV.X
Uxie brought a lot of consistency to the deck and the LV.X was an important way to deal with Machamp SF, which was by far your biggest threat. A lot of players wrote the matchup off as an auto-loss, but really good Regigigas players could bring it closer to 60-40. Playing a full 3-1 line was important to ensure that you could drop the LV.X repeatedly if you needed to. Also there really never is a time when you hate seeing Uxie in your hand.
One of the strongest aspects of Regigigas was that it was too able to Power lock the opponent for multiple turns in a row. Carefully using Sacrifice you could always make sure that you had an open Bench space to play down a free Mesprit. Another combo you could do is sacrifice a Mesprit on the Bench and then use Time-Space Distortion to bring it back to your hand so you can play it down again.
Depending on the situation you could either Power lock your opponent every turn at the start of the game or play more conservatively and Power lock them only on certain turns you could take advantage of. There really was a much larger thought process than just “slap down Mesprit.”
1 Azelf LA
Some lists didn’t play Azelf due to Bench space and being a bad opener. I like the card because Prizing either part of a 2-2 Regigigas line could cause problems or force you to play overcautious. In certain matchups you really do need access to Pokémon you only play 1 copy of, like Uxie LV.X or Abomasnow.
1 Azelf MT
SP decks were so popular and this deck incorporates Azelf MT it was beautiful. You basically forced SP players to constantly attach extra Energy to attack and in many cases you were 1HKOing their Pokémon. It also made it much harder for the opponent to drop a surprise PromoCroak (Toxicroak DP41) on you.
I liked Azelf MT in decks that can easily recover it if its gets Knocked Out. SP decks could deal with 1 Azelf MT pretty easily with a Dragon Rush or Bright Look, but they had a hard time removing it from the board multiple times. With 2 Time-Space Distortion you could recover it multiple times, but not as easily as Gyarados could. You could either makes plays to drop it instantly or try to set up situations where you knew your opponent couldn’t deal with it. There were a lot of really strong combos with Mesprit here.
1-1 Abomasnow SF
The main reason the deck used Abomasnow was as a Mewtwo LV.X counter. You could evolve it and then hit for 60 damage and Paralyze the Mewtwo with the second attack and then finish it off on your next turn. Overall Dialga G LV.X was a better Mewtwo counter since the 100 HP Dialga G couldn’t be sniped and you didn’t have to leave the Dialga G LV.X Active. This was a lot better against thicker 2-2 Mewtwo lines, but outside of countering Mewtwo and shutting off Nidoqueen the Dialga was pretty useless in other matchups.
Abomasnow on the other had dramatically improved your Machamp matchup and was a solid attacker against any deck that didn’t play Nidoqueen. In most cases the opponent had to at least 2HKO it, which means you normally got at least two spreads off. This made it a lot easier for Regigigas to get 1HKOs and hit magic numbers.
Like most decks that try to set up Uxie LV.X or simply play a lot of Pokémon with 1 Retreat Cost, this deck plays a copy of Unown Q. The sheer number of Basics the deck play made it very unlikely to start with a single Unown Q. While rare, you could also make some pretty cool trick plays where you sacrifice a pixie or something you were forced to Unown Q and then get the Q back with Time-Space Distortion.
1 Crobat G
The deck couldn’t abuse Crobat G as easily as other decks since it didn’t play Poké Turn, but just 10 damage helped hit magic numbers quite often. You could also pick it up with a heads on Super Scoop Up and reuse it that way. Lastly, with a beefy 80 HP and free retreat it was a solid and safe starter for the deck.
Basically the deck needed a searchable to discard cards and Regice was once again the best of the three. Getting Energy into the discard pile early was key to getting a fast Regigigas-EX. The argument could be made the deck should play Registeel LA, but 50 damage really isn’t that impressive. Regice on the other hand can force Spiritomb out of the Active Spot or switch the opponent’s Active to something on the Bench that Regigigas could KO. It was better to have a strong support Pokémon that could make big plays than a weak attacker.
I also want to note that with Judge in the format and the deck playing Giratina that deck thinning was important for Regigigas. You really wanted to up your chances of drawing into multiple Poké Healer + in the late game.
This was a perfect card for the deck because it did two things the deck needed. The first was it was a strong straight draw card that didn’t force you to shuffle your hand back in. This was great for trying to draw into multiple copies of Poké Healer, for example. The second was it let you discard cards, which helped get Energy in the discard pile early for Regigigas or helped deck thinning in the mid and late game. Since most “shuffle in and draw” Supporters netted you 6 (Professor Oak’s New Theory), a straight draw of 4 was really strong for decks that could tolerate or liked the discard.
The deck needs to play a lot of Pokémon search because it stays consistently good throughout the game. It grabs your Mesprit, Uxie, or whatever else you might need. If you’re able to, your first two turns of the game will most likely be spent playing Roseanne’s or Pokémon Collector.
Originally I had a 3-3 split, but dropped down to 3-2 for room. I find Pokémon Collector to be slightly better in the deck, especially in the early game. You normally want 3 Pokémon such as a Regigigas, an Uxie, and a Mesprit. While early Energy drops are important, you really can’t afford to slow your setup down to get them. If your opening play is Roseanne’s for Regigigas and an Energy, it’s a pretty slow start. In the opening hand I’d rather have the Pokémon Collector and gamble that I’ll draw the Energy off of the Uxie.
Roseanne’s on the other hand really starts to shine after the 3rd turn. At this point you probably have a decent setup and a near full Bench. You normally only need 1 Basic such as a Uxie or a Mesprit. This leaves you more open to grab that Energy and make sure you will hit your attachment for the turn. At this point to you might be in a position where you can grab 2 Energy to Regi Move to set up a Regigigas play.
They both have their purposes in the deck, but I’d much rather see Pokémon Collector in the opening hand.
Regigigas lived off of the field quite well and played so many draw and search cards being put at a small hand wasn’t a big deal. Two very big plays you can make with Judge are to either Mesprit lock your opponent and then Judge (leaving them with 4 cards and no Powers) or to Judge an SP player out of a Power Spray so you could use Sacrifice (leaving them 4 cards to draw a Power Spray).
The deck plays a wide array of Supporters that are needed in different situations. Playing 1 copy of VS Seeker costs the deck a very small amount of early game consistency, but adds a very large amount of mid and late game versatility. Having a 4th Felicity’s when you’re trying to draw into something or a 3rd Judge when you’re looking for 1 more chance to lock the opponent is huge.
The deck had so many come-into-play Powers that there never really was a time where Super Scoop Up was bad and there were so many plays you could make with it. You could use it to reset Mesprit to relock Poké-Powers, Uxie to draw more cards, Crobat G for an extra 10 damage, or Giratina to reset the hands. In a pinch it could even be used to pick up a damaged Regigigas LV.X to deny your opponent 2 Prizes. Even though it was on a coin flip, if you ended up batting 50-50 with it picking up 2 Pokémon per game was huge.
Playing healing with Regigigas was surprisingly not very common, but in my mind critical to the deck. You simply couldn’t rely on using Sacrifice every single time to heal yourself. Giving your opponent a free Prize is huge and could lead them to stealing games that you have all wrapped up. I know Erik Nance played 4 Life Herb in his build, but I didn’t want the flips. Regigigas plays a control game and I feel like I can be patient and wait for 2 Healers. If timed right even a single Poké Healer can make a huge difference. It requires a really strong understanding of your opponents deck and options, but knowing if they can push that last 10 damage or not is the difference between a KO or not a KO. Getting hit with PromoCroak also isn’t that uncommon and it was important to drop 1 Healer to get out of Poison so you would be able to Sacrifice.
The big thing I want to stress with Poké Healer is to just be patient and choose your times right. A pair of well-timed Poké Healer can mess up the opponent’s entire game plan.
The extra 20 damage is essential to score 1HKOs with the deck since a lot of numbers are 110, 120, and 130. The extra 20 health is also really important so you don’t instantly have to use Sacrifice when you take small amounts of damage.
Back in the day I thought 2 Expert Belt was low because it was so important to the deck, but in reality is the perfect number if you’re careful. The real trick here is to really protect them when they come into play.
Overall just a really versatile card in the deck that could be used for a lot of purposes. Aggressively it can be used to bring up a weak Pokémon that you can KO, or be used to put Uxie LV.X into play. Defensively you can get Regigigas out of the Active Spot to protect it on the Bench. This can be useful to get out of Special Conditions or against SP decks if they Power Spray when you use Sacrifice. Of course the simplest reason would be just to put Regigigas in the Active Spot.
The 2 copies of Pokémon Communication are just more added Pokémon search that can search out both Regigigas LV.X and Uxie LV.X. Being normal Trainers they pair well with Roseanne’s or Pokémon Collector to grab something extra you don’t mind throwing back.
Back in the day this card was insanely rare and the pull ratio was 1 in 3 boxes! I believe at the time they sat somewhere around $30 or so. Thankfully now they are sell for somewhere around $3. All I really care about here is getting at least 1 heads, while a second on occasion is really nice. The odds of getting 3 tails is 1 in 8, so I’m willing to gamble with this flip card. If you’re willing to settle for just 1 Pokémon back with no flip, then Pokémon Rescue is the way to go. The list that made T16 that year played a split.
While the deck could play Night Maintenance, I don’t recommend playing it over Pokémon Rescue or TSD. One of the big plays with the deck is to use Sacrifice to Knock Out one of your pixies and then grab it right out of the discard pile to play again for the effect. With Night Maintenance putting it back in the deck you would need a way to search it out again.
A really easy way to search out your LV.X’s early game, but really shined more in the mid and late game. It made TSD choices easier and was crucial in matchups (like Machamp) where you needed to have multiple copies of Uxie LV.X.
4 Double Colorless Energy
All of the main attackers can benefit from DCE, so it was a pretty easy “4-of” in the deck.
The deck doesn’t run anything that benefits from one type more than another, so the Energy are simply split evenly. Since Regigigas LV.X takes 1-of each you always want a pretty even split so you can get the most out of Sacrifice.
The Pokémon Rescue vs. TSD debate could really go either way and the deck can play either in any combination.
I’d like to take credit for this list, but the truth is this list is card-for-card the list Frank Diaz played to not only grind into Worlds, but also take 3rd in the main event. The list was just so perfect I really couldn’t find anything that I would want to change.
Let’s take a look at the list:
Pokémon – 24
1 Nidoran RR Female
1 Uxie LA
1 Azelf LA
Trainers – 25
Energy – 11
You want to start out like any other setup deck and hide behind Spiritomb while you set up. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice 1 or 2 Spiritomb along the way. You need to watch your Prizes more carefully than Gardevoir does, but once again this is a control deck and you don’t want to rush in before you ready.
The early game should be focused on Gengar SF using Shadow Room on different targets while you slowly power up a Gengar AR 16 on the Bench. Despite only running 1 copy of Gengar AR, it’s the linchpin of the deck. Once you get it powered up and an Expert Belt on it, you simply hit the opponent for 80 damage and switch back to a Spiritomb. The idea is you’re swinging for 80 damage a turn while constantly keeping your opponent under Item lock. This might not seem impressive, but Gengar has a lot of other little tricks that make the deck viable, such as moving damage around with Curse or leveling down the opponent with the LV.X. Also look for opportunities to set up Compound Pain for multiple Prizes. With proper planning you can end a lot of games like this.
In the early game make sure you set up Nidoqueen first, normally before you even start attacking. Dusknoir on the other hand is more for the mid or late game to help you control the board. You really have to get in the mindset of having a very passive playstyle and reacting to your opponent’s moves, especially in the early game.
I also want to note with 4 Spiritomb and 3 Gastly you have 7 openers in the deck that shut off Trainer cards. Your opponent should go a majority of the game with never being able to play a Trainer.
This deck is a bit different because we play the shiny Duskull. This Duskull actually has a very useful attack that lets you place up to 3 damage counters on both it and the Defending Pokémon. With both Magikarp in the format it is actually possible to score T1 wins if you’re really lucky. It’s also great for setting up knockouts for one of your other Pokémon or if they have 30 or less Hit Points to get a knockout without promoting anything you have to invest in.
It’s highly situational, but it’s important to remember that it is an option.
It wasn’t uncommon for set up decks to devote 5 or even 6 spots to early Pokémon search. With so few P Energy in the deck and so few ways to search them out, Frank decided to go heavier with Roseanne’s Research than Pokémon Collector.
There are pretty good odds that you might open Spiritomb or the opponent will, so the deck needs to play some Pokémon search that can be played under Trainer lock.
Judge is just such a critical part of any deck that attempts to control the opponent. The deck just has so many different ways to control the opponent, putting them at a 4 card hand on top of everything can be game ending.
Unlike Sablelock, you’re not trying to control your opponent’s hand, rather just try to limit their options or stop them from building up a huge hand. With decks playing so many Trainers, the odds are out of those 4 cards 2 or 3 of them are probably Trainers they can’t even play.
I remember originally looking at this list and I just couldn’t figure out why he decided to play this card at all. Frank talked about it and said that so many decks were designed around either knockout Claydol or stopping you from being able to Cosmic Power that it was important to have an alternative form of draw power. Felicity’s Drawing was also good with Claydol because you could Cosmic Power to 6 and then straight draw 4 more cards from your deck. So in one turn you could see 10 cards in your deck. This made it a lot easier to pair Rare Candy with Gengar or hit that P Energy you needed.
Only playing 3 Rare Candy might be a bit surprising since the deck plays three different Stage 2 Pokémon, but since the main strategy of the deck is to keep Spiritomb in the Active Spot a majority of the game you’re not always able to play Rare Candy. It’s more for the mid or late game to drop Dusknoir or a quick Gengar SF.
Warp Point was a disruption card for the deck either forcing the opponent to bring up a different target or setting up plays with Shadow Skip or Compound Pain. It was also great for getting Claydol out of the Active Spot if it was dragged up. It’s not essential to the deck in my mind, but it certainly has a lot of uses.
A lot of my original lists for the deck ran 3 Expert Belt, but the high count really isn’t needed. Basically the only Pokémon you really want to throw an Expert Belt under is Gengar AR and with it constantly switching back to the Bench it’s unlikely it will get Knocked Out anyway.
Watch for other Expert Belt plays with Uxie, Nidoqueen, etc., but the main purpose of the card is once again Gengar AR.
Since you have a much greater degree of control in the mid and late game on when Spiritomb is in the Active Spot, you can get by with playing some Trainer search cards even with your high Spiritomb count.
This is basically the card that just makes the entire deck work. It gives all of your Psychic and Darkness Pokémon free retreat, so after you switch back to Spiritomb you can free retreat it on the following turn. In the early game it’s great for getting Spiritomb out of the Active Spot if you are going aggressive first.
5 P Energy
Only playing 5 P Energy looks really low and that’s because it is. You need to devote at least 2 to Gengar AR and than at least 1 more to each Gengar SF. The 5 Energy really does play fine you just need to be aware of where they are; Prizes, deck, field, discard, and of course your hand.
Finding them when you do them isn’t hard though with all of the draw power in the deck and of course you can search them out with Roseanne’s Research. By watching the number and where they are at you can also judge if and how many you need to send back with Night Maintenance.
The main reason the deck has to play the card is to make sure that a Spiritomb doesn’t get locked in the Active Spot by cards like Chatot or Roserade. It also sets up a lot of plays with Curse or Level Down.
For example, you could retreat your Active Gengar SF and promote a Gengar AR. Then use Curse to move 10 damage to a Uxie before attaching a Warp Energy and switching back to the Gengar SF. Now you have perfect math to Shadow Room the Uxie for a knockout. Little plays like this pop up all the time with the deck and of course it great for getting out of Special Conditions.
I really hoped you enjoyed the article and find yourself with a much better understanding of the 2010 DP-PL format. My goal was to take the 2010 format and write an Underground-level article about it. I’ve already started part II of the article and I have it mapped out to cover the other top five decks in the format. I’m hoping to have it out soon, but once again it’s a very time consuming-process writing all this and I have pretty high standards for myself. I was hoping to have part I out sooner, but there were several sections I wasn’t happy with and wanted to rewrite them.
Perhaps this is vain, but if you enjoyed this article please take a moment to leave me a comment that you did so. I put a lot of time and effort into all of my articles and it really does mean a lot to me when I see people find them useful and enjoy them.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything, please post on the forums!
As I’m sure you can imagine, building and testing these decks to come up with the perfect lists is very difficult and a time-consuming process. While the article itself is 100% my writing, many of my lists in the article were built and tweaked based on the help, advice, and testing of others.
I would like to acknowledge all of the people who talked about these decks with and in many cases help me tweak and fine-tune my lists. I would also like to give credit to people who I may not have talked to, but I did borrow heavily from their lists they were kind enough to post at the time or share with me. If there is anybody I missed, please message me and I’ll make sure to get you added to the list!