Hello again, SixPrizes! We are three weeks into City Championships and are quickly approaching that time of the year when City Championship marathons begin. These marathons involve multiple days straight of competition that will test a player’s resilience and adaptability. Playing tournament after tournament for an extended amount of time can be very strenuous and shows similarities to the actual process of running a marathon. Personally, the Georgia Marathon has held some of my greatest memories in this game. Getting to hang out with some of my best friends and family for over a week, while also getting to play the game that brought us together, is what makes these marathons so much fun.
Similar to an actual marathon, these events usually require plenty of preparation and hard work in order to achieve positive results. An untrained competitor can’t just stroll into a 26.2-mile race and expect to walk away as champion. Since I have been part of the Georgia Marathon numerous times in the past, I’ve decided to focus this article on preparing for the upcoming marathon season. During an actual marathon, runners usually begin the race by starting off slow and reaching a consistent speed. Once that consistent stride is found, it usually carries throughout the majority of the race until some extra speed is needed at the end to close out the race. This can be applied to choosing Pokémon decks for our marathons as well, with certain decks fitting under each of these specific categories. For this article, I’ll go over six possible deck choices that fit into three separate categories: Starting Off Slow, Consistent Stride, and Strong Finish. With each option, I’ll discuss some strengths and weaknesses to consider when choosing the deck.
After talking about the possible deck choices to play for the upcoming marathon season, I’ll go over some helpful tips that I’ve learned throughout my experiences during this time of the year. Since most City Championships are focusing on the Standard format, I will also just be including lists for Standard. This current metagame is beginning to open up with new possibilities and some strange frontrunners are appearing with every passing tournament. It’s time to buckle down and start preparing for these City Championship marathons so we can book our tickets to San Francisco. Let’s get into the article!
Starting Off Slow
We’ll start off this article with two deck choices that involve a slow beginning to each game, but are inevitably leading up to a large damage output. Decks that fit into this portion of our “marathon” analogy should require some time to get into their stride, which immediately brought my mind toward a Tyrantrum-EX-based deck. We’ve seen this giant dinosaur hit for heavy damage in the current metagame, but he always needs a couple of turns to get ready behind some Bronzong.
While trying to think of another deck that requires an intense setup process that leads into a constant stride of damage output, I realized that a Crobat-based deck would fit perfectly into this category. The version that I chose would be the Raichu/Milotic variant that has been growing in popularity over the past couple of weeks. With a large amount of Evolutions that need their basic forms to hit the board, along with a very large amount of Bench space required for maximum damage efficiency, this Raichu/Crobat/Milotic deck fits nicely into the “Starting Off Slow” category.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
Tyrantrum-EX has become a sensation after the most recent Regional Championships that have come and gone. It seems like that was the performance that propelled this destructive dinosaur to his rightful place near the top of the food chain in the Pokémon community. Although it may not be the best deck in the current metagame, this build certainly has plenty of raw power from Tyrantrum-EX, while also showing some locking potential through the attacks of Giratina-EX.
With the release of BREAKthrough, this build now has a solution for two of its biggest problems: large Retreat Costs and a dependency on Double Dragon Energy. With Zoroark BKT as the new Pokémon to use for suddenly becoming Active, since Keldeo-EX has rotated, it has been added to the deck with Float Stones in order to create an easily accessible switching option every turn. Smeargle BKT helps to bring F Energy out of the discard pile in order to attack with Tyrantrum-EX, but can also provide a great effect of bringing about another M Energy in place of the Fighting when an Aegislash-EX is attacking. With Smeargle around, the reliance on DDE won’t be as grave.
Aside from being a very effective switching Pokémon, Zoroark also plays a crucial role as the only non-EX attacker in this deck. It is always important to try and incorporate Zoroark into the game at some point toward taking knockouts, which will inevitably create a 7-Prize situation for the opponent.
The 2 copies of Judge are also very crucial to the strategy of this deck, as it will almost certainly force a Shaymin-EX out of an opponent. Creating positive Prize exchanges is another crucial task needed for this Tyrantrum-EX deck to flourish, which can happen through a big Zoroark Knock Out on a Shaymin-EX. Another strange card choice to some would be the Buddy-Buddy Rescue, as most players use a Super Rod. I found the immediate gratification of grabbing a useful Pokémon out of the discard was much better than shuffling important Pokémon back into the deck to be found later.
Let’s discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong.
- The ability to set up attackers within a turn of having out multiple Bronzong is very strong and can surprise an opponent
- Giratina-EX has a locking capability with its attack that could completely shut down an opponent from attaching Energy and progressing their board
- With a large amount of Sky Field being played, the deck can be thinned from playing down many Basic Pokémon to decrease the hand size
- Tyrantrum-EX has the capability of Knocking Out almost anything in the game, including even a M Sceptile-EX from an added Muscle Band and the Giovanni’s Scheme
- This deck can utilize the Battle Compressor engine to put crucial Supporters in the discard pile for future use, along with setting up Bronzong by discarding M Energy as well
- Since this deck takes a longer amount of time to get set up than normal decks, some aggressive builds can overwhelm Tyrantrum-EX with pressure
- Hex Maniac can prove to be very annoying to deal with if an opponent plays it down on a crucial turn
- Large Retreat Costs can prolong attacks from coming out for multiple turns if Zoroark isn’t in play (or if AZ isn’t readily accessible)
Pokémon – 29
2 Milotic PRC
Trainers – 25
Energy – 6
This deck made an introduction during the first week of City Championships and has been spreading around the United States since then. There have definitely been plenty of different Raichu/Crobat lists around for quite a while, but they haven’t really incorporated Milotic into the mix until this current format. It can only be assumed that the need for retrieving Double Colorless Energy is just too great for this deck to only rely on just the 4 copies.
A build that is focused completely around getting tons of Basic Pokémon into play as quickly as possible would need something out of the ordinary, which would explain the 3 copies of Brigette. With such a strange looking list, it almost seems weird that the deck can even function with such a high amount of Pokémon. The 3 copies of Brigette make plenty of sense in terms of getting out Zubat and Pikachu to begin the Evolution lines. With such a high amount of Pokémon that need to be involved, playing a Supporter that grabs multiple Basic Pokémon just saves us the trouble of searching them out somehow.
Another crucial card in this deck would be the copy of AZ, which serves many different purposes. AZ can pick up a Shaymin-EX to prevent an opponent from taking 2 Prize cards, pick up an entire Crobat line in order to get more damage out of those Abilities, pick up a Milotic line in order to grab another crucial card out of the discard pile, and also serve as a switch card for when something gets stranded Active without an Energy.
Let’s get into the strengths and weaknesses.
- This deck plays many ways of getting out Basic Pokémon and can set up multiple Evolutions in a relatively short amount of time
- Golbat and Crobat damage can make all the difference in certain matchups, which include almost singlehandedly beating Night March
- With Golbat and Crobat damage, any attacker in the game can be Knocked Out after a fully-powered Raichu swings
- Milotic helps to recycle important resources that may have been discarded at some point during the game, which can be a game-breaking ability that completely changes the outcome of the match
- Almost every attacker in the deck has a free Retreat Cost, which makes decisions much easier after a Pokémon has been Knocked Out and another needs to be promoted
- All Pokémon in the deck have relatively low HP and can be Knocked Out by weak attacks early in the game
- Feebas is an extreme liability to bench with just 30 HP, as it immediately becomes a target for opposing Shaymin-EX to attack and bounce out of the playing field
- After a Sky Field has been countered and another Stadium is in play, it can sometimes be hard to fill the Bench back up to a large enough amount to get 1HKOs
Now that we’ve passed the slow starting points seen in the previous decks, the next two options will show nothing but consistency and a straightforward attacking game. While thinking about possible deck options to fit into this category, the best options would have to be M Sceptile-EX and Yveltal/Gallade. The M Sceptile-EX deck has a completely straightforward strategy of doing 100 damage every turn, while also constantly healing damaged attackers to keep in stride. There’s nothing more consistent than just looking to do 100 damage every turn of the game until all Prizes are drawn.
The other option is the definition of a consistent deck choice, with Yveltal/Gallade showing the best results of the City Championship season so far. Just another example of a deck with a simple attacking strategy that has shown positive results.
M Sceptile-EX (3rd Place @ Columbia, SC)
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 37
Energy – 10
In my opinion, this M Sceptile-EX deck is one of the most fun decks to play in the current Standard format. I piloted this exact list to a 3rd place finish at the Columbia, SC City Championship this past weekend. My only losses on the day were to an Entei/Charizard-EX deck, which I was matched up against during the fourth round and again during the Top 4. Needless to say, it was a massacre for my poor Grass Pokémon.
I’ve decided to add an Assault Vest into this list in order to help with the Night March matchup, which had proven to be extremely close. With the help of an Assault Vest to reduce damage, the Night March deck can’t take a 1HKO on our main attacker and we can effectively go up on the Prize exchange. There is also a single copy of Giovanni’s Scheme in order to help against many different matchups, with extra damage sometimes needed to take Prizes. A few examples of potential targets would be against Yveltal XY, Shaymin-EX, Wobbuffet PHF, and Crobat PHF.
Also, many people may be looking at the copy of Fisherman in this deck and are very confused. With sources of Energy being a consistent healing option in this deck, a reusable Supporter card that gets Energy out of the discard pile proved to be extremely effective during gameplay. Without a doubt, the copy of Fisherman was one of the best additions to this deck.
Throughout the day of competition, I found out that this M Sceptile-EX deck doesn’t have very many bad matchups. Aside from any Fire Pokémon with the capability of doing at least 110 damage, I was confident in just about every matchup that I faced. If an opponent can’t find a way to muster up 220 damage to Knock Out a M Sceptile-EX, the damage will just inevitably be healed away when a different attacking M Sceptile-EX comes up to use Jagged Saber. With enough Energy-retrieving cards (Fisherman, Energy Retrieval, Super Rod) at our disposal, the constant healing barrage and damage output will eventually overwhelm an opposing player.
Let’s go over some strengths and weakness of the deck.
- It is very difficult to Knock Out a M Sceptile-EX with 220 HP
- The deck has shown consistent starts of getting out a M Sceptile-EX on the first turn through the use of Hoopa-EX and 4 copies of Forest of Giant Plants
- The deck is constantly creating new attackers through the use of Jagged Saber attaching Energy cards
- The deck is constantly healing attackers to prevent an opponent from taking Prize cards on damaged Pokémon-EX
- M Sceptile-EX has an Ancient Trait that prevents it from being damaged by opposing Abilities, which proves to be very effective in the current format that is filled with Crobat-based decks
- Grass typing comes in handy against any Seismitoad-EX-based decks, which would certainly be considered a great matchup
- With a Weakness to Fire Pokémon, this deck has a terrible matchup to the Entei/Charizard-EX deck that has been growing in popularity over the past couple of weeks
- If this deck were to miss an Energy attachment, it would fall behind and be at a significant disadvantage throughout the game
- The deck can sometimes struggle to take the last 2 Prize cards on a Shaymin-EX, as the max damage output without an Ariados is 100 damage (10 short of KOing a Shaymin-EX)
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
Energy – 11
Thanks to The Charizard Lounge and their compilation of City Championship results so far, we can very clearly see that Yveltal/Gallade has been performing the best with 58 overall placings in the Top 4 around the United States. The next deck choice even close to that would be Night March, which has 45 overall placings in the Top 4. With so many people showing interest in this deck for upcoming City Championships, this deck certainly needs to be on your radar for any marathons that you are going to attend.
In my version of the deck, I’ve chosen to play 4 Yveltal XY and no copies of the new Yveltal BKT. Although it can be a good attacker in some situations, I never actually felt the need to attack with it and would much rather be using Oblivion Wing. I also chose to play a single copy of Giovanni’s Scheme to help with the math for getting knockouts. With the help of adding 20 damage, a Gallade can now reach up to 170 damage with a Muscle Band attached, which is now Knocking Out opposing Pokémon-EX. This can prove to be a game-changing Supporter card in the late stages of a match when an opponent doesn’t see a knockout coming.
Another strange card in this build would be the Buddy-Buddy Rescue, which was just recently changed into the deck for the Super Rod. In games of testing, the Super Rod actually ended up hurting in most situations, with being forced to shuffle in a Gallade or Energy cards that were meant to stay in the discard pile. Buddy-Buddy Rescue provides the immediate satisfaction of getting a Pokémon back, while also leaving vital components in the discard pile to be utilized later.
Now, for some strengths and weaknesses.
- Gallade is an excellent attacker for just a single Double Colorless Energy and has good type advantage over Yveltal’s Weakness (Lightning)
- Many of the attackers in this deck have very high amounts of HP, with Yveltal XY having 130 HP and Gallade having 150 HP
- Gallade can allow for easy access to vital resources with the use of its Ability “Premonition”
- Zoroark helps to alternate attackers effectively through using its Ability to become Active and then retreat with a Float Stone.
- Awkward damage outputs can be met through the many damage-adding Trainers (Giovanni’s Scheme, Muscle Band)
- This deck provides plenty of consistency cards to constantly set up in the same way during each game (Trainers’ Mail, Acro Bike, Battle Compressor, Ultra Ball)
- With a Weakness to Lightning Pokémon, this deck heavily relies on getting out the Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick at some point to win the game, which can prove to be difficult in some situations
- This deck can struggle against opposing aggressive decks, such as Night March, and requires almost perfect play in order to secure a victory
- This deck can have a small damage output if a Yveltal-EX doesn’t get set up from the beginning of the game
In our marathon analogy, we’ve already discussed the decks that represent starting off slow and the decks that fit into creating a consistent stride. With the “marathon” for deck choices almost over, the last two remaining deck options would represent the strong finish toward the checkered flag (which would probably just be a ribbon in terms of marathons). Deck choices that fit into this category symbolize the builds that give everything they’ve got to finish off games quickly (before they run out of resources and deck out), just like exerting last bits of energy to reach the finish during our race.
An obvious choice for this section would be Night March, as it is the most aggressive build in the current metagame and uses a multitude of resources to hit for large chunks of damage to end the game quickly.
When considering the second option to put in this category, I actually decided to go with the up-and-coming favorite around the TCG community lately, which has been the Entei/Charizard-EX deck. Through the deck’s innovative way of discarding R Energy to utilize with Blacksmith, this build creates attackers extremely fast in an attempt to overwhelm opponents and take easy knockouts.
Night March (1st Place @ Fort Mill, SC)
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 35
Energy – 7
As previously stated in this article, Night March has been showing its true power during City Championships with the second highest placing in overall results so far. I personally got a 1st place finish at the Fort Mill City Championship this past weekend and actually ended up going undefeated throughout the entire day. This deck was extremely quick and powerful throughout the tournament, along with getting a crazy knockout on a fresh M Manectric-EX during the second turn of the game to bench my opponent in the finals. With an ability to cause 220 damage out of nowhere on just the second turn of the game, it makes perfect sense to place this Night March deck in the “Strong Finish” section of the article.
To discuss some of the card options in this deck, I’d have to say the most important card addition would be the copy of Teammates. If you are going to play a Night March deck in the near future, make sure to try a copy of Teammates in order to keep the chain of attacking from stopping. Other strange cards that are in this build would have to be the Jirachi and the Xerosic, which show a lot of hatred toward Special Energy cards. The reasoning behind these additions was from the large amount of Giratina-EX that I saw before the tournament. I decided to add in some extra protection from Giratina-EX, which led to the addition of the Xerosic to partner with Jirachi.
Another card that certainly proved to be important was the single copy of Target Whistle in the deck. With the capability of Knocking Out the same Shaymin-EX twice, there was almost no way of stopping this build from taking all 6 Prize cards at record pace. Every game ended so quickly thanks to the added bonus of drawing extra Prizes from Pokémon-EX.
With enough finishing potential to end games before they even begin, an opponent needs to draw extremely well in order to keep up with the speed of Night March. There is almost no way of reliably keeping up on the Prize exchange, aside from a Yveltal-EX-based deck that plays 4 Yveltal XY.
Let’s get into the strengths and weaknesses of this build.
- This deck is the definition of pure speed and can end games extremely fast
- With a large number of consistency cards to burn through the deck, you will almost always be left with nothing but vital resources during the late game
- Night March has the capability of hitting up to 240 damage, which should Knock Out any Pokémon that gets in your way
- With an added Jirachi and Xerosic, the matchups against any Seismitoad-EX deck becomes much less scary (all we need is one turn of Items to get those Lampent and Joltik in the discard pile)
- With a Bronzong to help get Energy on the board, there is rarely a time when we will run out of Energy and lose the chain of attacking on every turn
- Every attacker in this deck has 60 HP or under and gets Knocked Out from an Oblivion Wing (Yveltal XY)
- Acro Bike may lead to situations where nothing but vital resources must be discarded
- With only one form of switching in this deck (Float Stone), there may become a time when a Bronzong becomes stuck Active and can’t be moved
- Prizing the single copy of Lysandre can be very game-breaking if not drawn within the first couple of Prize cards gathered
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
1 Eco Arm
Energy – 13
Ahh, the deck that destroyed my M Sceptile-EX army … I believe that this is the exact list that beat me in the Top 4 of the Columbia City Championship and went on to win the tournament, which was done by my good friend Mark Samuelson. Although this list probably looks strange upon first glance, it actually has very good synergy and creates attackers very quickly. Through the use of the 4 Scorched Earth, R Energy get into the discard pile with relative ease and can be brought onto the field through Blacksmith. Utilizing Shaymin-EX also becomes easier thanks to so many burnable cards in the deck to lower hand size, along with Entei allowing us to attach a multitude of Tools whenever they are drawn.
With an extremely consistent Item-based draw engine, this build is fast and doesn’t need multiple turns to draw through the deck. Most decks don’t abuse Scorched Earth as much as this build, such as the list given by Brandon Cantu that only played 2 copies of the Stadium, but I actually like the extremely thick Stadium-based draw engine. It serves a double purpose of drawing into resources, while also setting up for potential Blacksmith plays in the future.
The Eco Arm proved to be a very original idea in this type of deck that uses so many Tool cards. It makes perfect sense to abuse the Ancient Trait of Entei as much as possible, which means that some Tools may need to be brought back for future use.
Also, the Giovanni’s Scheme is a great addition to this deck with 20 damage being the separation point to many crucial HP targets in the game. Charizard-EX can now hit for 190 damage and Knock Out almost any Pokémon-EX, while an Entei with 2 Muscle Bands attached can also hit for 190 damage as well.
- This build is still a surprise to see in tournament play, as many opponents don’t fully grasp the concept of the deck just yet
- The deck can hit for large amounts of damage and can start attacking on the first turn through Blacksmith
- An Entei with 2 Assault Vests using Flame Screen can decrease 110 damage from an opponent with a Special Energy card attached (which are very popular in most decks)
- Entei only gives up 1 Prize card and creates favorable exchanges with opposing Pokémon-EX
- With such a large Item-based draw engine, this build doesn’t need multiple turns to draw into vital resources that are used for attacking quickly
- There is a very predominant Weakness to Water-type Pokémon that creates a terrible matchup to almost anything with a Water attacker that doesn’t use Special Energy cards
- With a draw-based Stadium card that relies on having two pieces (Stadium + Energy), there are situations in which only one of the pieces is in hand and cards can’t be drawn
- Without a high amount of draw-related Supporter cards, Shaymin-EX can sometimes become the only good way of drawing vital resources (which later becomes a liability)
Five Helpful Marathon Tips
I decided that it would probably be helpful to include some tips for people that are going to their first City Championship marathons this year, or possibly to just help some people that want to perform better at these tournaments overall. You don’t have to abide by these rules at all costs, but these should just be a friendly reminder of what to expect throughout the entirety of the marathon.
- Don’t just play the same deck at every single tournament. The metagame around you is constantly evolving, which leaves you with two options: Adapt to the constantly evolving format, or perish with an unchanged decklist … the choice is yours!
- Make sure to get plenty of sleep after each tournament. I’m not saying to turn the lights off at 8 PM or anything, but just make sure that you are getting enough sleep to keep sharp at each of these tournaments. It starts to get tough to concentrate near the end of the marathon.
- Remember to hang out with friends and enjoy the atmosphere as much as possible. Yes, they are City Championships and you have to pay for entry, but you are also with plenty of friends and interesting people that should create memories worth sharing.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for deck advice. Nobody is expecting you to know how every deck in the format works and what Supporter counts should be in everything. If you want to play a fun new deck that you saw, just go and ask somebody for help with creating a list that works. There’s no shame in working together to make a perfect deck.
- Always remember what decks made it into the finals of the day before, as they will play a large role on the upcoming metagame for the next day. If M Sceptile-EX wins one of the tournaments, somebody might bring around an Entei build to make sure they don’t lose to any Sceptile decks. That’s just how these marathons go.
Thank you to everyone for reading this article. I hope that everyone takes something away from these possible deck choices for upcoming City Championship marathons, along with maybe inspiring some people to attend one for themselves. They’re usually 5-9 days of straight Pokémon tournaments and all of them reward Championship Points, which makes them a fantastic way of getting close to that coveted World Championship invitation. If anyone is going on the Georgia Marathon, I can’t wait to see you there.
Good luck to everyone during their City Championships. Remember, we only need 300 Championship Points to get our invitation to San Francisco. Make sure to get as many points as possible while the seasons are giving away these CPs. Thanks for reading and feel free to message me or comment with any questions that you may have. Happy Holidays!
-Ryan Sabelhaus <3
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