Hey everyone! Five weeks of City Championships are in the books and it has been a very interesting and enjoyable series so far. I have been playing Pokémon nonstop since Thanksgiving which has given me no time to decompress. For that reason, I’m really excited to walk through my Cities results with you all today.
I’m going to try something a bit different with this article and take a methodical look at the Cities I’ve played so far. I really like to walk through my thought processes to identify any mistakes I’ve made in my own logic and correct them for the future. Similarly to how I talked about choosing my deck for Nationals, this will give you all a good way to reflect on your own Cities or any other tournament cycle for that matter.
- Cities Reflections
- Advice for Myself (and You Too!)
- Checking My Lists
Note: You may click on the deck names to find the lists that I played at each event. I encourage you click between the decks and my event reflections as you read. Each of my decklists is accompanied by reasoning for specific card counts and techs that I included for my expected metagame.
Brighton, MI — 11/27
What Won the Previous Cities: Nothing; this was the first Cities of the season
Expected Metagame: The two biggest decks at the Standard LCs in the area were Mega Manectric/Regice and Lucario/Crobat. I didn’t think that would change very much as people usually stick with what they’re comfortable with before the metagame develops. I also thought Tyrantrum would see some play as the reintroduction of Float Stone into the format would lead players to pick the deck up again after it was hyped heavily at Fall Regionals.
Deck Choice: Lucario/Crobat
Record: 1-2 (drop)
Lessons Learned: Lucario/Crobat is a bad deck. I lost to Mega Manectric/Raikou BKT and Vileplume/Regice, both matchups that I should be able to win. However, my poor draws kept me from winning these games. The deck is too reliant on Korrina in the early game but it needs a lot of cards to properly set up, something Korrina really can’t help you with.
Other Notes: I had to play Christopher Schemanske in a 60-card mirror match in Round 2. We both knew how to optimally play the matchup and played nothing but our Bat lines. He Judged me into the perfect hand of Zubat, Golbat, Miltank, and Fighting Energy which let me clean his field up in a few turns.
As I mentioned in my last article, I spent a lot of time in this new format testing out M Manectric variants. I thought Lucario would be a better play in my local area but I should have just stuck with Manectric. My friend Henry Ross-Clunis piloted my Manectric list from that article to a win in his first Cities and that list is now featured on the official Pokémon website. Kudos to you, Henry!
Okemos, MI — 11/28
What Won the Previous Cities: Tyrantrum
Expected Metagame: Vileplume/Regice was the most successful deck in Brighton so I definitely wanted to beat that. I also thought some players would be playing Tyrantrum and I feel confident in that mirror match, especially with techs like Hex Maniac and Xerosic.
Deck Choice: Tyrantrum/Bronzong
Record: 4-2 (miss cut)
Lessons Learned: Tyrantrum is inconsistent. Don’t play it in Standard. Both of my losses came against favorable/even matchups where I had a lot of difficulty finding Double Dragon Energy. In addition, two of my wins were games I should have lost but some very timely topdecks let me turn things around. I didn’t feel comfortable with the deck at all.
Other Notes: Christopher and I also had to play another 60-card mirror match in Round 2 today. This time he got his revenge due to my inability to draw Double Dragon Energy until I had already fallen behind too far in the Prize trade.
I was hosting my good friend JW Kriewall at my apartment this weekend. The night before this tournament, he was hyping the Vespiquen deck that he barely missed cut with at Brighton and encouraged me to play it. I was unconvinced on its viability so I stuck with Tyrantrum. JW won in Okemos in a metagame full of favorable matchups so I really should have trusted his judgement.
Hobart, IN — 12/5
What Won the Previous Cities: Vespiquen won in Okemos, Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade won in Indianapolis
Expected Metagame: Most of the MI crew were going to play Vespiquen. However, we all respect each other too much to secretly tech against each other. Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade and Night March seemed to be the two favorite decks among the Indiana and Illinois players so we wanted at least even matchups against those decks as well.
Deck Choice: Vespiquen/Entei
Record: 3-1-1 (Top 4)
Lessons Learned: In testing, Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade was a slightly favorable matchup for Vespiquen, especially with the addition of Ditto XY40. However, my Top 4 opponent was able to use a strategy that I never thought of. He attacked with Yveltal-EX in the early game, gusting up and Knocking Out my Combee and Vespiquen before I was able to get enough Pokémon in the discard for a suitable response. I had to dig through my deck to find the necessary Energy and Pokémon and ran out of attackers. In subsequent testing, we have reversed our position on this matchup.
Also, I went into this tournament sharing the thoughts of JW that Vespiquen may be the safest deck in the format with the most good/even matchups on the field. However, four of us played the same list at this tournament and I was the only one to make Top 8 out of only about 23 people. I definitely felt skeptical that Vespiquen could be the catch-all deck that I hoped it was and spent the night looking for a new deck.
Other Notes: Christopher and I worked on perfecting JW’s original list for Vespiquen during the week between Okemos and Hobart Cities. We tested it out at a League Challenge and continued our streak of playing in the second round. However, being a small League Challenge and knowing that every matchup in the room was even at worst, we decided to ID. This gambit paid off for us as I won the event and he finished in the Top 4.
Valparaiso, IN — 12/6
What Won the Previous Cities: M Mewtwo Y/Zoroark
Expected Metagame: Yveltal/Gallade was picking up steam in the metagame after placing 2nd in Hobart. We knew that other Illinois/Indiana players who favored the deck would be showing up in Valparaiso after skipping Hobart. Also, I expected Jason Klaczynski and Ross Cawthon to show up with Raichu/Crobat decks like they played in Hobart. Jando Luna was able to easily beat these decks with his M Mewtwo Y/Zoroark deck, mostly by way of Parallel City. Lastly, Night March had seen almost no play at Hobart so we were fine with taking a bad matchup to it.
Deck Choice: M Mewtwo Y/Zoroark (this link will take you to Christopher’s article where he covers the deck in great detail)
Record: 4-2 (miss cut)
Lessons Learned: I was beginning to understand that almost every deck in Standard is fairly inconsistent. I lost my first two matches due to awkward hands that made it impossible to set up multiple attackers. I was feeling pretty underwhelmed with this deck but I saw its true power as I won my next four matches to somewhat salvage the day.
Other Notes: Christopher piloted the same deck to a Top 8 finish, losing to the Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade deck that we were expecting Mewtwo to beat. After we both lost to the same deck in back to back days, we started to think Yveltal might be a pretty good play in the coming weeks. We spent the next week theorizing on how to improve the base list that I got from my friend Kevin Baxter.
Kalamazoo, MI — 12/12
What Won the Previous Cities: Night March
Expected Metagame: A lot of Michigan players who weren’t in Indiana for the previous weekend were expected to show up. This made it hard to guess how they would react to the shifts in the metagame. Kalamazoo was pretty close to the Indiana border so I did expect some players to come with Night March as it won the week before. This was the only deck that I really tested against during the week (due to a busy school schedule) and the inclusion of an Enhanced Hammer really turned it in Yveltal’s favor as expected.
Deck Choice: Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade
Record: 4-1-1 (Top 8)
Lessons Learned: Yveltal was just as good as I was expecting. It was certainly the most played deck in the room and the techs that we included really helped in the mirror match. There were a lot of favorable matchups for us at this Cities but I ran into the same M Rayquaza twice to get eliminated. Even Zoroark could not punish him enough for filling his Bench up and my inability to get Gallade out in most of our games put the nail in my coffin. Even though I did not think that Rayquaza could do well in this format, the metagame for this event seemed to have shifted just enough for it to run into a ton of favorable matchups.
South Bend, IN — 12/13
What Won the Previous Cities: Speed M Rayquaza
Expected Metagame: Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade was still the deck to beat so Christopher and I decided to shift back to the Mewtwo deck we had played the week before. We thought some players would try to play Manectric decks and Raichu decks to counter Yveltal which gave us even more reason to think that Mewtwo was the best play.
Deck Choice: M Mewtwo Y/Zoroark
Record: 2-3 (Drop)
Lessons Learned: In order to further improve our M Manectric matchup, we switched the AZ in our original list to a Pokémon Center Lady. This usually eliminated their option to 2HKO a M Mewtwo, letting you turn a Prize trade back into your favor or further cement your lead. However, this change was directly attributable to my first two losses as I no longer had the option to clear a heavily-damaged EX from my field and prevent my opponent from taking their last Prizes. As often happens, a small decklist modification may seem like it will have a small effect but when not fully thought out, it can have disastrous results.
Other Notes: Christopher ended up with a 4-2 record, unfortunately bubbling out of top cut at 9th. However, he would have played against Night March in Top 8 had his resistance been slightly better, a matchup he would have almost certainly lost. My other teammate, Chris Derocher, was the player who took that 8th seed with his Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade deck and easily beat the Night March player. Even in a room full of bad matchups for Yveltal, the deck was able to thrive due to its consistency and sheer power.
After this tournament, Christopher and I decided that the deck was typically an inferior version of the M Rayquaza deck that won in Kalamazoo. Mewtwo gives you slightly better matchups against Vespiquen and Raichu decks but in most metagames where we wanted a deck focused around a big Mega Pokémon-EX, Rayquaza is the way to go. It’s just more consistent, does more damage, and even beats Yveltal more often (when you know how to play the matchup).
Toledo, OH — 12/19 (Expanded)
What Won the Previous Cities: This was the first Expanded Cities of the season in Indiana, Ohio, or Michigan
Expected Metagame: I had no idea what to expect at this Cities. I figured that Seismitoad/Giratina, Blastoise, Night March and the other popular decks from Fall Regionals would all see play. I just wanted to play the most consistent deck to give myself a good chance at making top cut, hoping to lose because of bad luck in my matchups and not due to dead-draws. I did choose to tech against the players that I knew would be there. For instance, I knew one player would be playing Accelgor so I kept the Audino and AZ in my list. Donphan would also be played by at least one player so we recycled the idea of Banette from our Standard format list to combat pesky Focus Sashes.
Deck Choice: Vespiquen/Flareon (once again, Christopher has already covered the list that we played so check out his article for some commentary on the deck)
Record: 4-1 (Top 8)
Lessons Learned: Even the (arguably) most consistent deck in the format can deal you terrible hands. Ugh. For instance, I used a Professor Sycamore on my first turn in Top 8, but did not find any of my 12 outs to Eevee, Combee, or Ultra Ball. This meant that I could not pull off any meaningful attack on my second turn which put me way too far behind in the Prize trade. Unfortunately, this didn’t even matter as I didn’t see a single DCE throughout the game, playing down to 2 cards in my deck (both of which were DCE) before conceding.
Other Notes: For as much as I complain about my sour grapes, I saw my fair share of luck in this tournament as well. My third round opponent flipped triple tails on Articuno’s Tri Edge attack which let my Eevee survive. Also, for the fifth round, I was downpaired but my opponent had no chance to make Top 8 and kindly conceded to me.
Tecumseh, MI — 12/20
What Won the Previous Cities: Mega Gallade/Forretress in South Bend (12/13), Lucario/Focus Sash/Hammers in Windsor (12/19)
Expected Metagame: One deck that I thought would start to see play in the area was the new Entei/Charizard deck. It has great matchups against Night March and Yveltal, both of which had seen a lot of play across the country. My good friend JW Kriewall won the Windsor City Championships in the Standard format with a strong Energy denial deck featuring Lucario/Focus Sash so I also wanted to beat that. I knew that the deck relied on exploiting Focus Sash, so Xerosic or Startling Megaphone would probably have to be included in any deck that I played. Night March was seeing a lot of play in Indiana and Ohio but I didn’t expect many players from either State to make the trek to Tecumseh, finally giving me some wiggle room to safely play the Rayquaza deck that I had lost to a week prior.
Deck Choice: M Rayquaza/Mismagius
Record: 4-1-1 (Top 8)
Lessons Learned: Seismitoad is never truly dead. Christopher and I decided to cut the Jirachi in our list because we hadn’t seen much Seismitoad in the area recently and that ended up being a huge mistake. Jirachi is a simple 1-card addition that can dramatically improve a matchup and it was foolish for us to think it was expendable.
Other Notes: In my 6th round of this tournament, I chose to ID with my opponent. However, the smartest play would have been to play the game out. If I had won or lost, I still would have made Top 8 and my matchup would have been significantly better. Instead, my two potential matchups were decks featuring Seismitoad-EX and Hammers, both of which I had slim hopes to beat.
Once again, this was another tournament where my friend JW Kriewall tried to convince me to play the deck that he was confident in but my tunnel vision kept me from listening to him. He and Chris Derocher played the Lucario/Hammers list that you can see further down in this article but I was not as confident in the deck’s matchups, especially against the Entei builds that I thought might show up. JW had some bad luck on the day but Chris ended up winning the tournament without losing a single round.
Mansfield, OH — 12/27 (Expanded)
What Won the Previous Cities: Yveltal won in Toledo, the only Expanded Cities in the area
Expected Metagame: Vespiquen was the most played deck in Toledo so I needed a solid game plan against that. Ohio players seemed to like Yveltal; several of them played it in Toledo. M Rayquaza is another favorite in Ohio. I usually see at least a couple of players with the deck every time I go down there. I also thought we might see some fringe decks like Donphan, Sableye/Garbodor, and even Durant. There are so many random decks in Expanded that can catch you off guard so I wanted to prepare for anything.
Deck Choice: Archie’s Blastoise
Record: 4-1-1 (Top 8)
Lessons Learned: Blastoise takes nerves of steel to play in this format. I took the gamble that most players would not be expecting it and would cut the Ghetsis from their lists. The other worrisome counter, Hex Maniac, can be played around but a Turn 1 Ghetsis completely decimates the deck. I never saw a Ghetsis all day but the threat of it made the first turn of every game really terrifying. I don’t think I would take this gamble at Regionals or if there had been any other Blastoise doing well at Expanded Cities in the area, but for this one tournament it paid off.
Other Notes: I played the Victini that Christopher used in his Fall Regionals list and it was great all day. Articuno was my main way to deal with Vespiquen and Night March and having the ability to re-flip a bad Tri Edge was invaluable. However, it bit me in the behind in my Top 8 match. I had game in hand — all I had to do was take the 75% chance of a knockout on a Vespiquen and Lysandre a Shaymin next turn. However, I flipped 0 heads and then 1 heads to whiff the knockout and there was nothing else I could do. The odds were in my favor but the dice were not.
Advice for Myself (and You Too!)
Now that I’ve looked at each of the events I’ve played so far, what are a few takeaways that I can use to improve the second half of my City Championships season?
1. Pick a solid deck and roll with it. There is no perfect play!
One of my biggest flaws is my obsession with coming up with the perfect deck for an event. This can work out well at a large event like States or Regionals where trends in the metagame are more pronounced and you might play against the most popular deck for a large portion of your rounds. However, at City Championships and this year especially, the spread of decks is very wide and the frequency that any one deck is played is often very low. Even if you have a good deck that is strong against the most popular deck, there is no guarantee that you’ll play against that deck more than any other deck.
Instead, I should have focused on sticking with decks that had relatively good matchups across the board. Almost all of my success thus far came with Vespiquen and Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade, decks that I played due to their ability to win almost any round regardless of which deck I’m paired against. In the future, I’m going to look for one of these decks that I can perfect and play to the highest caliber possible.
2. Listen to your teammates! They might be onto something.
Ugh, this is the most embarrassing part of my Cities season thus far. As you can see above, there were two Cities where I was given the list of the day’s winning deck the night before and was encouraged to play it. I didn’t trust my teammates enough to go along with their deck choice, something that I have preached before.
I currently sit with 90 Championship Points through 9 events, significantly behind the 170 and 130 CP that I had after as many Cities in the last two years. My teammates Chris Derocher and JW Kriewall have been to less events than I have and each have 140 CP. I can only speculate as to how well I would have done if I had listened to their advice but instead of wasting my time, I’m just going to trust them more in the future.
3. Variance will happen. Good luck or bad, it’s ok. Keep at it!
I’ve had a decent amount of bad luck in my Cities season so far. I’ve lost to great matchups due to bad starts and I’ve gotten paired up against decks that I have bad matchups against while sitting next to tons of other decks I’d like to play instead. However, I’m sure I have had tons of good luck throughout these 8 City Championships as well. As humans, we tend to only focus on the games and days where we feel cheated by luck and disregard the times that things go our way.
Increasingly, I am finding this Standard format to be fairly inconsistent. The draw options are weak compared to what we have had in previous years and the introduction of Judge into this format can easily turn legitimate games into one-sided dead-draws.
The best way to combat this? Go to more tournaments. I’m increasing my travelling radius this year and planning to hit a total of 16 City Championship events. By combining this with better deck choices and a stronger mentality, I know that I can finish out this Cities season with a lot more Championship Points.
Well, I definitely found that to be a beneficial process. It is very easy to become disillusioned with the game when you are doing poorly. Instead of continually being frustrated without change, it always helps me to take a deep breath and look for ways to improve. I encourage all of you to try this exercise out sometime this year. Even when you’re performing well, you should try to identify your good habits in order to capitalize on them in the future.
Checking My Lists
Now, to close out this article, I want to display all of the lists I have played at Cities so far (as well as a few that I should have played). There are some interesting techs to talk about even in the decks that I wouldn’t play again and I hope that you all can learn something from the reasoning behind them. Feel free to ask me any questions about these lists and refer back to the individual tournament analyses as I made a few seemingly questionable decisions based on my specific expected metagames.
Week 1: Lucario/Crobat
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 33
Energy – 9
Looking back on this, my first thought is that I was trying to do way too many things with the list. In theory, the card decisions all make sense. In practice, having only 1 Shaymin-EX and no real draw Supporter other than the 4 Sycamore leads to a pretty clunky deck.
Miltank was a cute tech in the mirror, giving you some good damage output when the game inevitably devolves into Crobat wars. You could also use it to bait your opponent into using a Lucario-EX to Knock it Out and let you storm ahead in the Prize trade. Miltank was also included as a way to beat a Manectric deck that only benches 1 Regice, using Rough Seas to heal off what little Bat damage you’d be able to do.
Since the deck runs a high count of Korrina, I wanted to give myself a lot of options when choosing my Item card. Level Ball lets you find Zubat early in the game, Enhanced Hammer gets rid of any pesky Flash Energy that Manectric may play or gives you an edge in the mirror match, Switch lets you recover from an unlucky Shaymin or Miltank start, or Professor’s Letter can find you the Energy to go with the Fighting Pokémon you grabbed. I don’t think there’s any better engine for this deck, but even so, it’s pretty underwhelming.
Even though I’m not considering Lucario/Crobat as a play anymore, it has definitely had a lot of impact on my local metagame. M Sceptile was able to thrive momentarily because of its immunity to Bat damage. The Vespiquen lists that I have played both used Banette to circumvent an opponent’s Focus Sash and Manectric lists all run Flash Energy. Keep Lucario decks in the back of your mind and I would definitely say this list is pretty solid to at least test against.
Week 1: Tyrantrum/Bronzong
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 35
Energy – 11
Man, Tyrantrum is a much more awkward deck in the Standard format than in Expanded. I didn’t think Zoroark was really worth the 2 slots, plus it’s a lot harder to search out than Keldeo-EX is in Expanded. Thankfully, since I don’t think Hoopa-EX is worth the deck space, I was able to cut the Sky Field and play more helpful Stadiums. I’m still not sure if this was the right call, as my Bench is often occupied by 2 Bronzong and 2 Shaymin-EX, leaving me with little space for charging up a secondary attacker.
Once again, I was trying to do way too much with this list. Xerosic and Hex Maniac are amazing cards in the mirror match, singlehandedly winning you the game when played at the correct time in the Prize trade. Hex Maniac and AZ were the two big techs against the Vileplume decks that we expected to see, both of which help you to switch an Energy-depleted Tyrantrum out of the Active.
My favorite tech in this list was the Parallel City, a theme that you’ll see across most of the decks that I have played at Cities. At the time, its main use was as another tech for the mirror match. A Parallel City to limit the Bench to 3 easily can destroy the potential for setup of any Tyrantrum deck. In a pinch, you can even use it to get rid of your own Shaymin-EX, and Faded Town helps you to restore your full 5 Bench slots, something that you’ll likely need later in the game.
This list looks to have plenty of drawpower between the 2 Shaymin, 6 draw Supporters, Battle Compressor/VS Seeker combo, and full set of Ultra Ball. However, I rarely found that to be the case as I started half of my games with unplayable hands. The problem may have been the high number of situational cards that either can’t be played in every circumstance or that you don’t want to waste early in the game. Unfortunately, I don’t think the deck can thrive without most of these cards so I’ve tabled Tyrantrum in my considerations.
Week 2: Vespiquen/Entei
Pokémon – 26
Trainers – 27
1 Town Map
Energy – 7
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but I promise I’m not crazy. This list is full of 1-ofs and underplayed cards, and yeah, that’s a Ditto. I’ll start there since I’m guessing that’s the most out of place tech. Christopher and I each have our own set of pet cards — things we see potential in but don’t have the right deck to be played in at the time. Once we expected to play at least a couple of rounds against Zoroark, Raichu, and even other Vespiquen decks, this silly Ditto became a great attacker that didn’t require us to be able to keep a Combee on the board. I have even used it to mill cards off of a Houndoom deck and Sky Return it back to my hand on occasion. It provides a lot of versatility to a relatively straightforward deck.
Wobbuffet was easily the worst card in the deck. We expected some of the Vileplume decks from the week before to stick around but that never happened. Surprisingly, this deck has a decent matchup against Vileplume due to Entei’s ability to hit the pesky flower for Weakness. Banette was another relatively lackluster card, but it can singlehandedly improve the matchup against M Manectric significantly. With only 25 Pokémon in the deck, it’s hard to build up to 210 damage in one attack so I really like being able to control the pace of the game.
Entei may seem inferior to other Energy acceleration solutions such as Flareon AOR or Yveltal XY but I really like it. Its main use is against Night March and Vespiquen — matchups where you can’t miss a beat if you want to stay in the game. However, it can even punish an opponent in any matchup if they fill up their Bench. It may take you a couple of turns to set up, but a Lysandre or Pokémon Catcher on a Shaymin-EX allows you to take a few easy Prizes even if you’re having trouble finding all of the pieces to a Vespiquen line.
The MVPs of this deck are in the Trainer line. Town Map really keeps this deck running right. Instead of lamenting over having your last DCE or your only copy of Lysandre in your Prizes, you can pick them out exactly when you need them. Pokémon Catcher helps you turn any game around, especially when paired with Teammates. It’s a gutsy play but I’ve seen it win game after game. Parallel City helps you to stay ahead in any matchup against other non-EX-focused decks. You can clear the Shaymin-EX off of your board while using your opponents to win the Prize trade.
Vespiquen is likely the best deck that I’ve played throughout the Cities season and I hope to pick it back up if the metagame shifts away from Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade.
Week 3 (Interesting List): Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
This is an interesting take on the Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade deck, inspired by the Wisconsin players that piloted it in Kalamazoo and South Bend. Druddigon is an attacker that I never even considered — it provides a great way to Knock Out Shaymin when you can’t get Gallade out. It’s also just a solid attacker in general, especially in a deck that doesn’t have a lot of good ways to deal significant damage for a single Energy card.
Xerosic, Giovanni, and Enhanced Hammer are all great cards in the mirror match, as well as providing general utility in other matchups. Typically, the Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade mirror is won by whoever makes the most use out of their DCE. With an Enhanced Hammer to drop at any time as well as a Xerosic to reuse, it should be fairly easy to run your opponent out of their precious Special Energy. Giovanni is one of my favorite additions to the deck; it provides an easy way to draw the exact card you want in conjunction with Premonition. Its second option can also be used with Gallade, although this time to power the attack. The extra 20 damage helps to 1HKO an opposing Gallade, or the addition of a Muscle Band lets you Knock Out any 170-HP EX.
One thing I want to comment on is the choice of Zorua. Most players are playing Zorua BKT 89 for the auto-Confusion option but I definitely prefer the other option. If I’m in a situation where I have to attack with Zorua, getting rid of a card in my opponent’s hand seems significantly stronger than confusing their Active Pokémon. There are tons of options to get out of Confusion: retreating, Switch/Escape Rope, AZ, Super Scoop Up, Zoroark BKT, etc. Every deck can make use of at least one of those options. However, if you get rid of your opponent’s only draw card in their hand, you’ll put them in a much worse situation. There is a fair debate as to which Zorua is better but I will always play Zorua BKT 90 unless a better option comes out.
For more analysis on this deck, check out Christopher’s article from last week!
Week 4: M Rayquaza/Mismagius
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 35
Energy – 7
This deck looks crazy inconsistent but I promise you it actually sets up very quickly almost every game! Hoopa-EX gives M Rayquaza decks an insane boost that I wish we had back in the Nationals format and makes a Shaymin-based draw engine possible. The pair of Battle Compressor make finding the perfect Supporter very simple, and on some turns, you don’t even need to play a Supporter. One change that I would make is to find room for a 2nd Professor Sycamore. I was pretty scared throughout the day on my initial deck search, knowing that a prized Sycamore would probably lose me the game.
Speaking of pet techs, Mismagius has been on my list ever since I first saw the scan. The ability to actually limit your opponent’s hand size, and the flexibility to play another Supporter to further disrupt your opponent is unheard of in this format. Misdreavus is a great Bench-sitter in a deck that relies on a huge Bench, and, when they actually know what Mismagius does, can distract your opponent from your real threat.
Cresselia is a seemingly random inclusion that almost all of my opponents had to read. However, providing an option for free retreat in a format without Keldeo-EX to partner with Float Stone is invaluable. During many games, I would start a turn not knowing if I would be able to pull off an Emerald Break. With a free-retreating Pokémon in the Active, I had the flexibility to adjust my game plan mid-turn and use Sky Return to either clear a Shaymin-EX off of my board or draw more cards next turn. Plus, you need tons of Pokémon on the board to fuel M Rayquaza’s attack so Cresselia fits in nicely.
The Trainer line is pretty standard, other than the Winona. I was pretty skeptical at first but it serves two important purposes. The first is finding both halves of a M Rayquaza when you have the Spirit Link in your hand. Sometimes you don’t have a way to get out Hoopa or maybe you don’t have the Bench space to properly use it. The more important one is to get both pieces of your Altaria line. Altaria wasn’t too useful for me on the day; I actually prized it for the only matchup I played against Manectric! I was actually able to win that matchup fairly easily. M Rayquaza outspeeds and outlasts M Manectric and the inclusion of the Dragon-Type Rayquaza-EX gave me a good Pokémon to absorb a hit.
M Rayquaza is a deck that I have liked ever since piloting it at Nationals. Unfortunately, I don’t think it has a great place in the Standard metagame. Night March is seeing more and more play throughout the country, and the resurgence of Energy denial makes the deck even weaker. However, if Entei starts to suppress these sorts of decks in your area, Rayquaza may be worth your consideration.
Week 4 (Should Have Played): Lucario/Hammers
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 43
2 Head Ringer
Energy – 9
This is the deck that my teammates piloted to wins at Windsor and Tecumseh Cities. The idea here is pretty straightforward — keep your Pokémon with Focus Sash and Super Scoop Up while running your opponent out of Energy. All of the Pokémon in this deck have cheap attacks and almost all of them are searchable by Korrina, making the deck pretty low maintenance. It preys on a lot of the popular decks in Standard like Yveltal, M Manectric, and Night March as none of them can keep up with both Energy denial and the consistent damage from Lucario.
I’ve made a few changes after playing with the deck, namely the addition of Head Ringer and Landorus FFI. Head Ringer serves as another way to starve your opponent of Energy, and works really well with Xerosic. I’ve considered using Startling Megaphone to discard your opponent’s tools but I fear having to discard my own Head Ringer. Landorus FFI helps with the relatively low Energy count in the deck, and gives you a non-EX attacker that can attack other non-EXs. This addition also further cements the Night March matchup in your favor.
The Supporter lineup in this deck may seem suspect at first but usually works out pretty well. Trainers’ Mail or Battle Compressor plus VS Seeker can help to find a Supporter when you’re in a pinch. Once you hit one Korrina, you can grab VS Seeker or Ultra Ball for Shaymin if you don’t have anything else in your hand. A lot of the time, you don’t even need to play a Supporter. Almost every card in the deck is valuable in nearly every matchup and it is perfectly acceptable (at times) to sit on a hand full of situational Item cards.
Lucario/Hammers is a really strong deck in the right metagame. It struggles with decks like Entei that can reliably accelerate Energy, and anything that uses Crobat or Tool-discarding cards to circumvent Focus Sash. If you find yourself in an area where Night March and Manectric are being heavily played, consider taking this deck for a spin!
Week 5: Archie’s Blastoise (Expanded)
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 32
Energy – 10
I’m super proud of this list. It’s pretty close to as good as it gets, especially for the metagame that I was expecting. The 2 Tool Scrapper were largely unnecessary but there was a Durant and a lot of Vespiquen in the room so they would have helped me get past Life Dew. The Hex Maniac was also pretty underwhelming but I was glad I had the option if I ever ran into a mirror match. It gave me a way to guarantee the win against both Eelektrik and Yveltal but I would probably cut it in the future.
Unown was a great substitution for Acro Bike. You can always play it to get it out of your hand and you don’t get put in an awkward spot where you’re forced to waste a Superior Energy Retrieval or another valuable resource. Acro Bike is slightly better for digging for that one Battle Compressor or Ultra Ball you may need to complete the Archie’s combo but I never wished my Unown was an Acro Bike. Shout-out to reigning World Champion Jacob Van Wagner for the suggestion!
Regice was only useful once but I was definitely glad that I had it. I used it to attack for the entire game against a M Mewtwo deck, and Rough Seas made it impossible for him to use Yveltal to Knock me Out. It was my only realistic way to beat the M Rayquaza decks in the room and would have helped against any of the Yveltal decks as well. If I were to play this deck again, Regice would definitely stay in the list. However, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleeve up Blastoise again because it’s just too easy to counter.
As always, feel free to ask my any questions you may have. I kept the list analyses pretty bare-bones as to not bore you with decks that many people are already familiar with. Instead I only explained the unexpected card counts and decisions that I made in crafting these lists. If anything else seems out of the ordinary to you, I’d love to explain my thought process behind any inclusion!
Good luck to all of you as you close out your Cities seasons. I encourage you to follow the advice that I outlined above. Even though it was specific to my own shortfalls, I think it is applicable to almost everyone. City Championships are the most important tournaments for anyone chasing a Worlds invite. If you haven’t done well so far, don’t get discouraged! There’s still time to turn things around.
Hope to see you all soon — take care!
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