Hello everyone! It’s good to be back and writing again. It feels quite odd to me to be in the throes of winter and not be anticipating weekend after weekend competing at City Championships. I have been playing Pokémon competitively since 2010 and the Cities gauntlet was always my favorite part of every season. In truth, I think that removing them our competitive circuit was probably a correct decision but it will take some time adjusting to League Cups in their stead. I know in some areas, Cups have begun to be scheduled but it remains to be seen if my general area will be receiving them any time soon. It would be unfortunate if I had to go another quarter without being able to add any of these to my Best Finishes but hopefully this will not be the case.
Giving Up on Gardevoir
My last article, if you’ll recall, focused entirely on Gardevoir and how I believed it to be the best deck in the format and at the time, I wholeheartedly believed this to be the case. However, the metagame began to shift in a direction where I suddenly became uncomfortable with it as a viable option. I tested, tested, and tested Gardevoir continuously even after writing my article and I believe I arrived at the perfect list for the deck but the emergence of several new decks began to shake my confidence.
Scizor as an archetype always existed but it never seemed to be at the forefront of the metagame and so while it existed primarily as a monster off in the distance, it did not warrant my attention. However, one of my main testing partners outside of my Sheep, Travis Nunlist, began testing Scizor/Raticate very early after Evolutions had been released. According to him, Raticate gave the deck the versatility to be much more of a competitive threat than just a rogue deck that was there to beat Gardevoir. Still, I was a skeptic towards Scizor but I knew that if this Scizor were to pick up popularity in the metagame, it would be somewhat unfortunate for my favorite deck.
To compound things further, the existence of the Pidgeot/Garbodor deck was also brought to my attention by Dean Nezam and Kolton Day. Allegedly, this was the St. Louis area’s secret deck for Fort Wayne and thus I knew it would be necessary to defeat in order to retain my favor of Gardevoir. Unfortunately, I found this matchup to be close to impossible. The deck’s general strategy proved very strong against Gardevoir as the combination of Garbodor and Parallel City limited Gardevoir’s damage and general consistency. Mirror Move could match your damage output for one Energy and obviously one Energy on a Basic compared to two on a Mega Evolution made things incredibly difficult and it would be rare for Gardevoir to be able to OHKO and Pidgeot with Despair Ray. Kolton’s build of the deck also featured Magearna-EX which could knock out Gardevoir’s with ease and were as resilient as any of the other Pokémon in the deck. In retrospect, I greatly overestimated the popularity of this deck but it was simply another factor that inevitably scared me off Gardevoir.
The final straw however was simply a reexamination of the matchup analysis I provided in my last article. To put things bluntly, several of Gardevoir’s matchups that I listed as even or slightly favorable were simply a matter of going first. Even alleged auto-wins like Mega Mewtwo could be somewhat difficult if you lost the coin flip and that just soured me on the deck even further. Coinflip matchups are never fun, even if you happen to be able to win them every time and knowing that Fort Wayne would require much more than luck in order to succeed.
For those curious, my final list for the deck was only one card off what I posted in the last article where Raticate was cut for a third Fairy Drop which further helped the Yveltal/Garbodor matchup but certainly did nothing for any of the matchups Gardevoir tended to struggle with.
Looking towards the future, I strongly believe that Gardevoir can still be a strong deck in the right metagame and can serve as a pocket pick for various League Challenges and Cups until the release of Sun & Moon but versus a more questionable metagame, I think that my opinion has shifted towards the norm of my other writers here at SixPrizes where it is a solid tier 2 deck and not the BDIF I lauded it as earlier in the year.
Flames and Frogs
I abandoned my testing of Gardevoir just a few days before Fort Wayne and I had to scramble to decide what I wanted to play. Initially, my thoughts took me to playing a somewhat standard Greninja list but through the little bit of testing I was able to fit in my busy schedule, I found the deck to very inconsistent. The “Greninja hands” as I began to call them where you just happened to N or Professor Sycamore into hands with nothing playable or just clumps of Pokémon seemed to happen about 1/6 of the time which seemed disastrous for surviving a 14-round event.
I eventually worked Talonflame back into my list not because I thought it was “needed” but to simply try and boost the consistency of the deck and try and prevent the games where you got benched within the first couple turns. For those curious, here is the list that I was planning on playing and currently still have sleeved:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 33
1 Town Map
Energy – 8
I think, to a large degree, that this list is considerably different than the “standard” that has been established from the Michigan crew’s four copies of Splash Energy and while I am hesitant to play so many Special Energy in a format where double Enhanced Hammer is almost a staple in every deck, I think that some synthesis of this list and Chris Derocher’s list are probably correct. I think an easy compromise with this list could be to cut one of my Super Rod for a third Splash!
Almost all will likely disagree with my choice to play Talonflame but I still think it is the deck’s best option to try and eliminate some of its inherent inconsistency. I bite the bullet on the consistency of starting with Talonflame by leaving Jirachi in the list but I think this card is just too useful not to play. Greninja is the type of deck that wants all the time in the world to set up and Jirachi can be invaluable in accomplish this end. Even in games where it just sits in the Active spot and gets knocked out, it gets something done by making it all the more difficult to KO something useful on your Bench.
The addition of Rough Seas was the idea of Mees Brenninkmeijer who you all know is one of my closest friends and primary testing partners. In our experience, Faded Town is not a necessity. We found that Mega Mewtwo decks tend to have the advantage with or without the card and Gardevoir is still slightly favorable even without Rough Seas and against decks like Yveltal, the Faded Town are obviously useless. Mees played Greninja to a top 32 finish at a recent Regionals and the International and while he disagreed with my inclusion of Talonflame, he swore by the Rough Seas and the odd copy of Delinquent. For me, Delinquent has become a staple in every single deck that I play since I played two copies of it to carry me through the first day of the 2016 World Championships. Stadiums play a vital role in the current format and it just never seems bad to have an option to get rid of the card. Additionally, many players will forget to play around the card, especially if they do not expect it, which can lead to some immediate victories.
The main exemption from this list that you might notice is the lack of Fisherman. I never found the card to be too useful and with three copies of Super Rod, I never felt the pinch for Energy. I think it could easily fit into the deck if you really wanted it, but I would almost rather play more Energy instead.
Finally, the last card I want to address here is the copy of Hex Maniac, which you may have never seen before in a Greninja list. Its inclusion was a last-minute swap for Pokémon Ranger, which I found to be a mostly useless card. Pokémon Ranger only sees play in Greninja as a way to hedge against the mirror but is useless almost everywhere else. Hex Maniac accomplishes almost the exact same thing (and itself cannot be negated by Pokémon Ranger) while being much more useful against virtually every other deck in the format.
Though I am still somewhat uncertain of how Greninja ought to be built, I am incredibly confident in my current Supporter count and would recommend giving it a try in your build of the deck even if you want to opt out of playing Talonflame as well.
Fort Wayne Recap: The Gamblin’ Group
As I traveled to Fort Wayne, Greninja had become my top pick but I was not happy about it and eagerly looking for another option. I met up in Indianapolis with the aforementioned Travis Nunlist along with Dustin Zimmerman and Eric Gansman. All three of them, interestingly enough, were completely enamored Scizor/Raticate. I remained skeptical throughout the evening knowing that it would be a total gamble to play the deck. However as the night went on, I watched Eric earn five or six crushing victories in a row against a wide variety of decks. I was soon transformed into a believer in the deck and scrambled to get the cards in order to complete it.
Travis covered the deck in sufficient detail in his last article and I want to commend him for discussing a deck publically that he easily could have kept a secret until after the tournament. This transparency is something I think SixPrizes owes to its readers and as discussed last time, something I would like to continue to work on in the general presentation of all my future articles. The list itself only changed two cards from Travis’s list, which was my contribution to the group, though admittedly it was a small one:
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