Cross Checks

A History Lesson, Canadian Nationals Coverage, Three Thoughts and Three Decks
I’m also a proud member of Team Poliswag!

Hey everyone! For those who may not know me, my name is Alex Hill and I’m a player from Michigan. I’ve been involved in the competitive scene for quite a while — this month actually marks 10 years for me! I never really saw much success until I went to college a few years ago and started to travel to more tournaments. I was able to earn my first invitation to the World Championship last year and will be playing there again this year after a strong season.

I’m incredibly excited to bring you my first Underground article. As you may know, the Canadian National Championship wrapped up last weekend. I’ll be covering the results from that tournament and how they should impact this weekend’s US Nationals. But first, I want to go over the history of the North American National Championships and the interesting interactions between them. Let’s jump right in.

Time Walk: The Recent History of North American National Championships

2011 marked a mid-season rotation.

On June 10, 2011, TPCi decided that they would be enacting the first ever mid-season rotation. The format would be shifting from Majestic Dawn-on to HeartGold & SoulSilver-on. The change took effect on July 1, a mere 8 days before the start of the US National Championship.

The only tournament that would provide players a glimpse of the metagame was the Canadian National Championship, which took place just 1 day after the format change.

Yanmega Prime ended up being the big card of the weekend, as it was in 8 of the Top 16 decks. Although it didn’t win in Canada, Yanmega/Magnezone Prime received a ton of hype in the week heading into US Nats. Before the tournament, few people considered Yanmega/Magnezone a viable option. Yanmega quickly went from being the stereotypical seemingly worthless ultra rare to selling for upwards of $70 on the night before US Nationals. In the US, we saw Yanmega in 5 of the Top 8 decks, including Justin Sanchez’s victorious Yanmega/Magnezone variant.

Typhlosion Prime/Reshiram BLW and Emboar BLW 20/Magnezone Prime were the other big decks in the format. Emboar/Magnezone saw two Top 16 placements at Canadian Nationals, but was notably a big flop at US Nationals. It did so bad terribly that many players completely wrote it off in their preparation for Worlds 2011, where it surprised the world by winning. On the other hand, Typhlosion/Reshiram was a popular deck at US Nationals and even carried Tom Dolezal to a Top 8 finish. It enjoyed a favorable matchup against Yanmega variants, which increased its popularity heading into Worlds.


In 2012, United States and Canadian Nationals were held on the same weekend, so the results in Canada could not influence the metagame in America. Darkrai-EX was definitely the dominant deck in both metagames, and it continued to be commanding at Worlds. Neither the winning deck in Canada (Entei-EX/Terrakion NVI) nor America (Klinklang BLW toolbox) had much of a lasting effect on the metagame as a whole.


tropical beach french plage
“Oui, je parle français …”

2013 once again saw Canadian Nats take place prior to US Nats. There were two weeks between the tournaments this year, which allowed American players even more time to react to the results from Canada. For the first time, Canadian Nationals was live-streamed which made it that much easier to obtain information on the metagame.

Unsurprisingly, Blastoise BCR was the winning deck in Canada. The players there had been known to favor the big turtle, and the legality of the French copy of Tropical Beach made the deck more accessible. Plasma and Darkrai-EX variants were also very popular in Canada, but did not see the same level of hype that Blastoise did.

At US Nationals, Blastoise surprisingly underperformed. Only a handful of players were able to pilot it to Top 128 and none of them made it any further than Top 32. Instead, many players played decks that had good matchup against Blastoise. Gothitelle EPO 47 was able to shut down Blastoise’s Energy recycling and even completely deny their setup in some instances. Klinklang PLS was successful because it was able to stop both Keldeo-EX and Black Kyurem-EX PLS from damaging any of its attackers. Even some of the Plasma decks were able to force Blastoise into a poor Prize trade with either high counts of Kyurem PLF or the Life Dew tech that Ryan Sabelhaus utilized in his 2nd place run.


In 2014, Canada’s National tournament was dominated by Yveltal-EX. Yveltal had been heavily played in other Nationals across the world which prompted some players to tech in Raichu XY in their lists. The two finalists opted to omit the Lightning techs in favor of other partners. Coming in at 2nd place, Ricky Gao played the consistent Garbodor DRX version with 2 Enhanced Hammer to shore up the Plasma matchup. Edward Kuang won with a very interesting Yveltal build that used Crushing Hammer to slow his opponents down. This was a common strategy two years before in the “Hammertime” variant of Darkrai-EX, but it was not played nearly as often in 2014.

Although most American players already had Yveltal-EX on their radar, Canadian Nationals proved it to be the deck to look out for. It ended up being very heavily played at US Nationals but it did not perform very well. Many players once again built their decks to counter it. Brandon Salazar’s winning Raichu XY/Landorus-EX build took advantage of the Weaknesses of the main attackers of most Yveltal variants. The 2nd place Pyroar FLF deck piloted by Michael Pramawat was also crafted with Yveltal in mind. He used a full count of Switch to mitigate damage from Hypnotoxic Laser, as well as a high count of both Pokémon Catcher and Lysandre to Knock Out opposing Garbodor. One Yveltal/Garbodor did make top cut, losing in Top 4 to Brandon Salazar.

Anything You Can Do …

hitmonchan machamp counter punch
Players are always looking for that counterpunch.

Typically, the decks that perform the best at US Nationals are the ones that counter the popular decks from Canadian Nationals. However, the last time there was a format change, the most popular deck at Canadian Nationals was not well countered in America. There are a couple of potential reasons for this. Some players could have discounted the results from Canada and thusly didn’t think that Yanmega was a big threat. My main thought is that a lot of the best players decided to play Yanmega instead of countering it. This is a very easy mindset to fall into with such a short amount of time to prepare for Nationals.

Either way, Canadian Nationals will have a strong impact on the field at US Nationals. Let’s take a look at what was popular this year!

Up North: Canadian Nationals Top 8 Results and Interviews

Here are the final Top 8 results from Canadian Nationals:

  1. Chase Moloney (Bronzong PHF/Aegislash-EX/Seismitoad-EX)
  2. Matthew Koo (Raichu XY/Crobat PHF/Seismitoad-EX)
  3. Aneil Saini (Raichu XY/Landorus-EX/Garbodor LTR)
  4. Rob Davies (Yveltal XY/Crobat PHF/Absol PLF)
  5. Ciaran Farah (Raichu XY/Leafeon PLF/Crobat PHF)
  6. Jason Greenberg (Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF)
  7. Andrew Estrada (Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF/Leafeon PLF/Flareon PLF)
  8. Chris Venier (Raichu XY/Crobat PHF/Suicune PLB)

For my coverage from this past weekend, I am very excited to be able to showcase interviews with 3 of the Top 4 players from Canada’s National Championship. I know you might be tempted to just check out the decklists that follow these interviews. However, I implore all of you to pay close attention to the thought processes that these competitors employed. Doing so will be very useful as you prepare for US Nationals — and any other tournament in the future.

Editor’s Note: Some of the Top 4 decklists were published on Facebook by the PTO after Alex had conducted these interviews and written this article.

Starting off the interviews, I was able to talk to the new Canadian National Champion, Chase Moloney. The Bronzong toolbox deck that he used to win the event should shake up the metagame so I am glad to have his thoughts on the deck and tournament.

Metalhead: Chase Moloney Interview

chase maloney cropped
Chase rocked the event with his Bronzong deck.

Alex: What metagame were you expecting for Canadian Nationals?

Chase: I was thinking Landorus-EX/Crobat would be pretty popular overall, while Seismitoad-EX variants would be pretty popular among better players, with a fairly low amount of Raichu/Crobat, and some Gengar-EX, Primal Kyogre-EX, Yveltal-EX, and Night March.

Alex: What choices did you make as far as your deck and techs to combat that metagame?

Chase: I decided on a Bronzong deck because I felt the deck didn’t have any auto-losses and would give me a chance to play every matchup. I knew it would be good versus Seismitoad-EX as Aegislash-EX, Dialga-EX, Cobalion-EX, Keldeo-EX, my own Seismitoad-EX, Kecleon, and Steel Shelter all help.

The main tech inclusions were Seismitoad-EX to help with Landorus-EX decks, Kecleon primarily for Mega Rayquaza-EX (though also for Seismitoad-EX and Raichu), and Cobalion-EX to discard DCEs off Seismitoad-EX.

Alex: What decks (if any) gave you trouble throughout the tournament?

Chase: The Kyogre deck I faced Round 4-of Swiss was a bad matchup. I was fortunate enough to bench out his lone Articuno Game 1, and then Game 3 I got the T2 Full Metal Impact and was able to out speed him.

Alex: Did the Garbodor in your Top 4 opponent’s deck slow you down at all? Or was your Seismitoad-EX enough to keep it out of the picture?

Chase: The first game he had a really rough start, never found Garbodor, and I just won really quickly. The second he had a bit more, but didn’t get Garbodor until later in the game, while I started quite well, so by the time he had it in play the game was already over.

Alex: So, what ended up being the popular decks?

Chase: There was a lot of everything, but the most popular deck, at least at the higher tables, was Raichu/Crobat. While I didn’t expect as many as there were, my deck was well prepared to beat them with Aegislash-EX as well as Heatran and Kecleon to trade 1 for 1.

Alex: Would you make any changes regarding your deck choice or decklist if you knew for sure that the metagame would be what it was?

Chase: No, even with the hindsight I wouldn’t. The deck was built to have answers for everything while staying consistent, and it managed to do all of that despite the fact that I made it an hour before I registered haha.

Alex: I’ve heard that last-minute decklists are your specialty. Thanks for the interview and congrats on the win! I hope you can follow this up with yet another strong finish at Worlds this year.

Chase chose to keep his exact decklist a secret, but here is a sample list of my creation that employs the same strategies that he mentioned in his interview:

Pokémon – 19

4 Bronzor PHF

3 Bronzong PHF

2 Aegislash-EX

2 Seismitoad-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Dialga-EX

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Cobalion-EX

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Heatran PHF

1 Kecleon PLF

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Colress

2 Lysandre


4 Ultra Ball

3 VS Seeker

3 Muscle Band

2 Float Stone

2 Battle Compressor

1 Escape Rope

1 Computer Search


3 Steel Shelter

Energy – 11

7 M

4 Double Colorless


Bronzong was a great play in Canada. It plays a myriad of attackers to combat many different matchups. A lot of the deck’s space is dedicated to countering Seismitoad-EX decks but many of those specific tech cards such as Keldeo-EX and Cobalion-EX can help out in other matchups as well. Aegislash-EX can singlehandedly win many matchups as the metagame is shifting away from large counts of basic Energy since lists are getting tighter and tighter.

Kecleon was a very interesting tech card that is starting to see an uptick in play. I love its inclusion in a deck like this with Energy acceleration. It can come out of nowhere to steal 2 Prizes on a Mega Rayquaza-EX 76 while only giving up 1 Prize when it is Knocked Out. It also has a lot of utility against Raichu decks, Seismitoad-EX, Mewtwo-EX, and in the mirror match.

Steel Shelter is the card that puts this deck over the top for me. Its biggest use is to shut off Hypnotoxic Laser which is the main way that Seismitoad-EX can Knock Out an Aegislash-EX. Now that Lysandre’s Trump Card is banned and Hypnotoxic Laser can’t be reused continuously, Bronzong decks should have a very favorable matchup against other decks that are centered around Seismitoad-EX. Steel Shelter is also a very nice soft counter to Raichu decks that run Sky Field. By forcing their Bench to the standard cap of 5 Pokémon, you severely limit their damage output and take away their 1HKO option on all of your Pokémon-EX. For full effect, replacing a Sky Field should be followed by an N to 4 cards or less. This will minimize the chances that your opponent will be able to respond appropriately.

Next, I interviewed my good friend Matthew Koo who finished in 2nd place. Matthew’s Raichu/Crobat deck is one that has been gaining momentum in this new format but this was the first time that it saw a notable finish at a National Championship.

High Voltage: Matthew Koo Interview

pikachu raichu electabuzz chinchou
Raichu sure made a splash in Canada.

Alex: What metagame were you expecting for Canadian Nationals?

Matthew: Going into Nationals, I knew Landorus-EX/Crobat, Seismitoad-EX/Crobat, and Night March were the “expected” decks and in the past Canada never stuck with what was expected. With that being said, I was anticipating a lot of Yveltal-EX/Crobat variants.

Alex: Yeah good point — something funky always comes out of Canada. What choices did you make as far as your deck and techs to combat that metagame?

Matthew: While testing with my friends Chris Venier, Jason Lum, and Curtis Lyon, we agreed that Raichu and Sky Field were too strong of a combo so we focused our deck around that. However, Landorus-EX was a big problem for Raichu, so we had to come up with a counter.

They went with Suicune and played Water, while I stuck with Seismitoad-EX. I chose Seismitoad-EX because it uses C Energies for its attack, allowing me to still have some choice in regard to my basic Energies. I decided to go with Grass and tech in a Virizion-EX to combat any Poison effects that might put me to Sleep and potentially lose me a game. Lastly, we had to consider the mirror matchup. I added in one Miltank as an added attacker for the mirror since we played the Bats already.

Alex: What ended up being the popular decks?

Matthew: There was a lot of Raichus there, and they all performed fairly well with 6 out of 8 of them being in top cut. There were a lot of Landorus-EX/Crobat and Seismitoad-EX/Crobat as well with a few Donphan and Kyogre-EX [decks] mixed in.

Alex: Do you think your deck was strong against other Seismitoad-EX variants?

Matthew: To be honest, I only tested the matchup once since I just came back from a 3-month hiatus, but during Swiss, the lone Virizion-EX in my deck literally won me every match fairly easily. Not only did it hit [for] 100/140 (depending on if I got the Muscle Band before I got locked), but I also got to accelerate two G Energies from my deck onto a Raichu. Through those Swiss matches, I believe I had the advantage. The only times when this strategy proved difficult was if the Seismitoad-EX variant played Hammers, in which case I had to switch into a different strategy to preserve my Energies.

Alex: Would you make any changes regarding your deck choice or decklist if you knew for sure that the metagame would be what it was?

Matthew: Maybe squeeze in a Switch to help bad starters and an extra Miltank/Muscle Band to give myself another attacker and some more damage, but other than that I think I made a good call for this tournament and the deck ran smoothly most of the time.

Alex: Thanks for the interview! Congrats again and I’m looking forward to seeing you at Worlds this year.

Matthew decided not to divulge his decklist. Instead, below is a sample list that I created based on what I observed from his streamed matches and the cards he mentioned in this interview:

Pokémon – 26

4 Pikachu XY

4 Raichu XY

3 Zubat PLS 53

3 Golbat PHF

3 Crobat PHF

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Seismitoad-EX

2 Miltank FLF

1 Exeggcute PLF

1 Virizion-EX

Trainers – 27

3 Professor Juniper

3 N

3 Colress

1 Lysandre

1 Teammates


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

3 Muscle Band

1 Sacred Ash

1 Computer Search


3 Sky Field

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 G

Playing such a thick Stage 2 line behooves including Miltank.

Upon crafting this list, I was very shocked at how many unique cards Matthew managed to fit into his deck. I feel like I included the bare minimum of some cards such as Sky Field and Shaymin-EX, but Matthew’s list had even more techs than mine. One such card that I decided not to include in my list was Mr. Mime PLF. Against opposing Crobat decks, I am not afraid of most attacks from their Golbat or Crobat. If they are choosing to snipe my Benched Pokémon instead of dealing with my attacking Raichu, I usually already have the advantage in that game. Landorus-EX’s Hammerhead attack would be my only concern but Seismitoad-EX with a Muscle Band is a much better counter than Mr. Mime.

I included 2 Miltank in this list as Matthew suggested upping his count from 1. Miltank is a great counter to other Raichu decks. The biggest problem in that matchup is streaming your Raichu better than your opponent can. Once you get a Crobat out, Miltank can solve that problem while also giving you time to set up your board.

Teammates is the other unorthodox card in this list and it is ingenious. Hypnotoxic Laser’s usage is at an all-time low so many more knockouts are being taken through attack damage. This means you don’t have to worry as much about Teammates not being activated because a knockout wasn’t taken during your turn. Typically, you will use this Supporter to search out a DCE but the 2nd card is where the real utility comes in. You could grab a VS Seeker to use Teammates next turn, a Golbat or Crobat to set up a knockout, or even a Shaymin-EX to draw and fuel Raichu’s Circle Circuit. Against Seismitoad-EX decks, a solid play would be to grab Virizion-EX and G Energy to shut down their Hypnotoxic Laser. Teammates is definitely a card that I expect to become a staple in many decks.

Lastly, I have an interview with one of the game’s up-and-coming players and my good friend, Rob Davies. Rob earned his first invitation to the World Championships with this Top 4 placement and I could not be happier for him. He is known for creating innovative decks and he definitely did not disappoint at Canada’s National Championship.

Simply Batty: Rob Davies Interview

rob davies
Rob and his son Jackson (who got Top 8 at Canadian Nationals).

Alex: What metagame were you expecting for Canadian Nationals?

Rob: I would say we figured the same as everyone did. Landorus-EX/Crobat, Night March, Trevenant, and the Primal Pokémon-EX.

Alex: What choices did you make as far as your deck and techs to combat that metagame?

Rob: [We included] Absol for big Bench decks and Leafeon for Primals and random Toads. We originally carried one Iris for easier 1-shots, but I removed it for the 11th Energy. The deck seemed to have a decent matchup versus everything we could imagine except heavy Manetric-EX decks. But it wasn’t an auto-loss unless they carried Max Potions. I tied one in Swiss. Fairies was nearly impossible to beat, so we gave up trying to tech for it.

Alex: Were you correct in your metagame prediction?

Rob: For the most part yes, but we did not predict Raichu being played by top players. That was a big surprise. Most of the top players in Ontario played it. We did test for it and had a winning percentage against it, but it happened to be what eventually eliminated me in Top 4.

Alex: What was your game plan against the Raichu decks and what went wrong in your Top 4 matchup?

Rob: Well. Matthew Koo is the biggest problem; he is the best player I know. But his record on stream is awful, so I have that going for me. Haha. Game 1 I didn’t set up well and he realized that Bats were big in my trading KOs. So he took advantage of my poor start and eliminated them fast. Game 2, my deck ran as it should and he couldn’t keep up with KOs.

Game 3, I started with a god hand going second, but Matt N’d me to useless cards such as VS Seekers. I couldn’t do anything but watch him take Prizes each turn. I did eventually get a Colress, but it was too late and Matthew is too good to give me any window to come back.

My game plan was to trade until he ran out of DCEs and he would have to attack every other turn with single Energy attachments. I made some small misplays and drew mediocre at best. It was sad for me as I had a solid matchup versus Metal and I knew Matthew didn’t. But losing to a legend is always less heartbreaking and the respect I have for that man is on a different level. If I had to lose, I’m glad it was at his hands.

Alex: Would you make any changes regarding your deck choice or decklist if you knew for sure that the metagame would be what it was?

Rob: Yes. Much thought about that already. A Repeat Ball for a second Shaymin-EX as he was prized a couple times and an Energy for the fourth N as I drew dead in opening hands too many times. Other than that, I was super happy with the deck.

Alex: Yeah I was definitely wondering about the single copy of Shaymin-EX. I understand why you didn’t play a lot of Pokémon-EX but having at least one more for consistency seems really useful.

Thanks for the interview man — I’m very excited to play with you at Worlds!

I’m delighted to be able to give you the exclusive first look at Rob Davies’ Top 4 Yveltal/Crobat deck. Here’s the list:

Pokémon – 18

4 Yveltal XY

4 Zubat PLS 53

3 Golbat PHF

3 Crobat PHF

1 Eevee PLF 90

1 Leafeon PLF

1 Absol PLF

1 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Colress

1 AZ

1 Lysandre


4 Ultra Ball

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 VS Seeker

2 Muscle Band

1 Silver Bangle

1 Repeat Ball

1 Sacred Ash

1 Dowsing Machine


3 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

11 D

Use Oblivion Wing. A lot.

This is exactly the kind of crazy rogue deck that I expect from Rob. After his Primal Groudon-EX/Dusknoir FLF creation at Provincials and Seismitoad-EX/Magcargo PRC 24 list at Regionals, I’m unsurprised that Rob was able to do so well with this unique deck. It takes a lot of skill to read the metagame so well and craft the perfect deck to counter it. Although Rob did not win, his deck definitely had the potential to take the whole tournament down.

The premise of this deck is unbelievably simple and seemingly underwhelming. However, with only 1 Pokémon-EX in the deck, you force your opponent to take at least 5 knockouts in every game. This is relatively unheard of in the formats we’ve seen for the past 3 years. Even if your opponent does decide to knockout the Shaymin-EX that you will likely have to bench, they will be neglecting your attackers that all deal a fairly strong amount of damage.

The basic strategy is to stream Yveltal with Oblivion Wing and power up your Benched Pokémon. Eventually, you will build up enough Energy on your Yveltal to use Darkness Blade which can singlehandedly score knockouts on popular Pokémon such as Raichu. With the help of Crobat, Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym, and Muscle Band, most Pokémon-EX can also be taken out in one hit. Absol is incredibly strong in this deck, especially against M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76. With the help of Muscle Band and Golbat, you can manage a 1HKO when they have a full Bench.

Seismitoad-EX is this deck’s worst matchup but it doesn’t automatically lose that matchup. Rob actually managed to beat a Seismitoad-EX/Genesect-EX deck in Swiss and Jason Greenberg’s Seismitoad-EX/Crobat in Top 8. Leafeon is obviously your go-to Pokémon in that matchup but with only 1 in the deck, it can’t be your only out. Crobat is actually a decent attacker as it can retreat for free to mitigate Poison damage from Hypnotoxic Laser. Absol can surprise an opponent in this matchup as well to do a lot of damage. I wouldn’t pilot this deck in a metagame where I expect a lot of Seismitoad-EX, but it does beat many of the other top decks.

Two Plus One: Three Thoughts and Three Decks for US Nationals

Stock up on Repel (or bring your own Bats).

What can we take away from Canadian Nationals? First and most importantly, I think it is fair to say that Crobat PHF variants will be the deck(s) to beat. With 6 of the Top 8 decks in Canada utilizing our batty friends, many players will mimic those same strategies at US Nationals. Landorus-EX/Crobat was gaining a lot of traction following the National Championships from the prior weekend leading up to Canada. Now, Crobat is proving that it isn’t just a one-trick pony. Be sure that the deck you bring to US Nationals can beat all of the different Crobat variants.

If you remember the results of Canadian Nationals in years past and how they have impacted US Nationals, you would be able to predict that a Crobat variant won’t win this weekend’s event. Instead, the player who wins will likely have some counters to the typical Crobat deck such as Aegislash-EX to prey on the low count of basic Energy that they typically run or Garbodor to render their Golbat and Crobat useless. Crobat is still a good choice to bring to US Nationals but I would be surprised to see it take home the gold.

Additionally, Bronzong has clearly cemented its place in the metagame and it should also have a place in your testing circle. Many players (myself included) had written this deck off. However, it enjoys a very favorable Seismitoad-EX matchup, as well as a strong Night March matchup. In fact, Aegislash-EX completely walls many of the big decks in the format right now, especially when paired with either Steel Shelter or Pokémon Center Lady to mitigate Poison damage.

How popular do I expect Bronzong variants to be at US Nationals? There will be a good number of high caliber players who pick the deck up for the same reason Chase did. I expect this deck to follow the exact opposite trend as Night March. You probably won’t play it very much in the early rounds of US Nationals. However, the top tables will see a much larger percentage of Bronzong decks than you would expect based on the field as a whole. I think it would be unwise to choose a deck for this weekend that has a poor Bronzong matchup.

Third, Night March may no longer warrant any consideration when choosing your deck for US Nationals. The deck was nowhere to be seen in Canada. Even if it did make an appearance, all of the Top 8 decks in Canada had some way to counter it. Most of them played Crobat PHF to help pick off Joltik and Pumpkaboo, but Aegislash-EX in Chase’s winning deck and the Garbodor LTR in Aneil’s 3rd place deck also give Night March a lot of trouble.

Many players at US Nationals will be playing decks that have a game plan to effectively defeat Night March. This will dissuade a lot of people from piloting the deck themselves. For those who still choose to march on with their friends Joltik and Pumpkaboo, they will undoubtedly encounter strong resistance. I expect to see very few (if any) players at the top tables to be playing Night March.

For me, this means that a good Night March matchup is no longer a requirement of my deck choice for this coming weekend. As long as you can make it through the first round or two without the unlucky pairing, I think it is very reasonable to expect to play against zero Night March decks at US Nationals.

With those points in mind, let’s explore a few decklists that I think stand a good chance against the expected metagame at US Nationals.

Deck #1: Donphan

Pokémon – 12

4 Phanpy PLS

4 Donphan PLS

4 Hawlucha FFI

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Sycamore

4 N

4 Korrina

2 Colress

2 Lysandre


4 Robo Substitute

3 VS Seeker

3 Muscle Band

2 Silver Bangle

1 Escape Rope

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Ultra Ball

1 Computer Search


3 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 12

5 F

4 Strong

3 Double Colorless

There’s no replacement for Raichu matchups.

My testing group has used the same Donphan skeleton list since Cities and recent testing shows that it is still relevant. I realized early in the season that a full set of Hawlucha was imperative to beating Seismitoad-EX although the matchup is still generally unfavorable. Our list is centered around consistency and the 4 copies of Korrina really embodies that idea. It is definitely the preferred Supporter for the first few turns of the game and I am almost always happy to see one in my hand.

4 Robo Substitute is a count I will not budge on. I think it is more important than ever now with Raichu taking up a huge part of the metagame to deny your opponent easy Prizes. Otherwise, Raichu can trade with your Donphan 1 for 1 which is very dangerous considering I don’t run a Sacred Ash in this list. Sacred Ash is too slow for this deck, especially without any Shaymin-EX to help to draw into it or draw other cards on the turn that I use Korrina to search out the Sacred Ash.

The deck definitely has a lot of room for tech cards and Korrina helps to make them accessible right when you need them. Professor’s Letter is very useful in the first few turns of the game and for any other time that you just need to find an Energy card. Enhanced Hammer provides a good way to win some otherwise unwinnable game states as well as general utility against most decks in the format. This is also almost the only deck that I prefer Escape Rope in over Switch as it can often help to finish a Pokémon off after you spread your Spinning Turns out across your opponent’s board.

I prefer Ultra Ball over the Repeat Ball that many players choose to use in this deck. My main concern is getting out the Turn 2 Donphan. This is rarely a problem in games where you can stream Korrina, but if you have to use Professor Juniper or N as your Supporter for the turn, having 5 outs to find Donphan over 4 can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Donphan seems to be a great play for this metagame. Its worst matchup, Seismitoad-EX decks, should be seeing a sharp decline in play as Bronzong decks are on the rise. Speaking of Bronzong, I haven’t played the matchup in the current format but it was slightly favorable for Donphan back in the Cities format. The main factor there is the Heatran count — as long as they run 2 or less, it should be a good matchup for Donphan. Raichu/Crobat and Landorus/Crobat are also good matchups for Donphan. It is often necessary to use 2 Strong Energy and a Muscle Band on a single Donphan to get a 2HKO with Spinning Turn on a Crobat in these matchups. Don’t be afraid to put all of your eggs in one basket; an attacking Crobat usually poses little threat to you.

Deck #2: Seismitoad/Crobat

Pokémon – 19

4 Seismitoad-EX

4 Zubat PLS 53

3 Golbat PHF

3 Crobat PHF

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Feebas PRC

1 Milotic PRC

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Colress

1 Xerosic

1 Team Flare Grunt

1 Lysandre


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Super Scoop Up

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Muscle Band

1 Computer Search


2 Virbank City Gym

1 Silent Lab

Energy – 6

4 Double Colorless

2 W

Fishing from your discard — in a deck like this — is very strong.

Up until this weekend, I had been favoring Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF as my deck of choice for Nationals. I’m very nervous to play a deck like this now that Metal is gaining traction in the community. Even with Golbat and Crobat damage building up on an Aegislash-EX, Steel Shelter really denies any knockout that a Seismitoad-EX paired with Hypnotoxic Laser would get. The only way that I think I could play a Seismitoad-EX deck of any sort in a metagame where I expect any significant amount of Bronzong decks would be with Silent Lab. It’s very strong after an N or to collect the last couple of Prizes with a Grenade Hammer in the end game. Mewtwo-EX also becomes a good option to Knock Out Aegislash-EX when you can shut off its Mighty Shield Ability.

Milotic PRC is severely underrated in a deck like this. With Super Scoop Up, I often will use Sparkling Ripples multiple times in a game. This can help reuse the Mewtwo-EX, Stadium cards, Hypnotoxic Laser, or basic Energy — whatever you need in that game or situation. For the low cost of 2 spots in your list, you gain a lot of utility.

The main argument against Milotic is the Bench space which is usually reserved for your Crobat line. However, this deck can easily operate with the Bench space that it has. The free retreat that the whole Crobat line provides allows for an attacker to be played down on the exact turn you need it without any concerns about getting it into the Active Spot.

One of my favorite inclusions in any Seismitoad-EX deck is a full set of “utility Supporters.” Using 2 Energy denial Supporters swings the Seismitoad-EX mirror matchup into your favor, and I chose one of these Supporters to be Team Flare Grunt to combat any decks that tech in G Energy and Virizion-EX. AZ is invaluable in a deck like this. It denies key knockouts in the Seismitoad-EX mirror match and also helps you to recycle Crobat, both under Item lock and when you need the guaranteed Scoop Up effect. One head-scratching count in this list is the single copy of Lysandre. I would almost always advocate for 2 in any other deck, but with the Crobat line I rarely find myself without the means to finish off a knockout after a damaged Pokémon retreats to the Bench.

I have had success with this list against Raichu/Crobat variants; Quaking Punch slows their setup down way too much. Once you get past the first couple of turns, your Golbat and Crobat can easily pick off their low HP Basic Pokémon as they struggle to evolve them. Seismitoad-EX also enjoys strong type advantage over Landorus-EX which is by itself usually enough to defeat any Crobat variants centered around it.

Seismitoad-EX/Crobat is a deck that I would take out of my toolbox if I start to see players countering Bronzong decks more. Even with Silent Lab, I don’t think that the Bronzong matchup is good enough for me to be comfortable with this deck. However, Seismitoad-EX/Crobat is still a good deck and will be played at US Nationals. If you aren’t considering it yourself, you should at least test against it.

Deck #3: Virizion/Genesect

Pokémon – 14

4 Virizion-EX

3 Genesect-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Vulpix PRC

2 Ninetales PRC

1 Ninetales BW66

Trainers – 33

3 Professor Juniper

3 N

3 Skyla

1 Colress

1 Shadow Triad


4 Ultra Ball

3 VS Seeker

3 Energy Switch

3 Muscle Band

3 Trainers’ Mail

2 Switch

1 Professor’s Letter

1 G Booster


2 Plasma Frigate

Energy – 13

9 G

4 Plasma

Consider V/G if you think Night March will fade.

This is an admittedly crazy but theoretically great idea that I’ve had after analyzing this weekend’s results. I would never play a Genesect-EX deck in a metagame where I expect Night March but I no longer do. Genesect-EX decks have always had a good matchup against the typical Bronzong builds I have played against. The Seismitoad-EX and Keldeo-EX that they usually play provide easy Prizes and they typically have a slow start which allows you the necessary time to set up. Dialga-EX can be problematic in that matchup and the Switch count can be increased to combat that.

Ninetales PRC looks out of place in a deck like this but I think it is necessary to cap Raichu’s damage output. In the mid to late game, Genesect can now trade 2 for 1 with Raichu which is a much more sustainable trade for you than it is for the Raichu player. Playing a Ninetales line also allows for a tech Ninetales BW66 which can help in the early game when you can’t attach the necessary Energy to Virizion-EX and also use Red Signal. I chose Plasma Frigate as the Stadium in this deck to counter any Flareon that might show up in response to the Bronzong resurgence.

I really dig the speed engine that this deck can now play. I no longer worry as much about missing the Turn 1 Energy attachment or Turn 2 Emerald Slash. Trainers’ Mail seems to be made for a deck like this that needs many different Item cards for the ideal setup. I’m not sold on the very low amount of Supporters in this deck but Shaymin-EX should mitigate that fear. Thinning your deck early in the game is also going to be very important to combat late-game Ns.

This deck is still too untested for me to play it at US Nationals. I provide this list in an effort to get your creative juices flowing. Maybe you can come up with some improvements to this list during your last few days of testing. It will definitely have some strong matchups in the field this weekend which might be all you need to pilot Genesect-EX to the top cut.


That’s all I have for you today! I hope that I have sufficiently covered Canadian Nationals as well as given you several things to think about for this upcoming weekend at US Nationals. Good luck to all of you who are playing in Indianapolis! Please feel free to say hello and introduce yourself to me if you see me. I love hearing from readers and I love making new friends even more.

Also, as this is my first Underground article, I emphatically welcome any and all feedback you have for me. I want to craft my articles to what you, the reader, wants to hear and see. And please hit that +1 button if you enjoyed the article!


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.

Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!

Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in. Legacy discussion: 5