Things have changed a bit in the land of Underground. Instead of mostly longer pieces, we’re now aiming to engage our thoughts in a much more succinct fashion — but more frequently — frankly, that has proven itself to be a little bit difficult for me. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing; I think my articles in the past almost had a formula to them, so it was easy for me to get going once I knew what I needed to cover, but now I have to focus considerably more.
As Shakespeare famously says, “brevity is the soul of wit” (perhaps the bard himself favored speedier, aggressive decks to anything requiring setup). I think that there is a real skill in the efficiency of using as few words as possible to say as much as possible, so with that in mind, let us begin today’s piece by looking at a new deck that I believe has gone somewhat overlooked in the current format!
It was brought to my attention early last week that Lurantis-GX might has what it takes to compete in the current format. My friend and teammate Curtis Lyon took back-to-back first places at his local competitions, but noted at one that he narrowly defeated a Lurantis deck in the finals and thought that the deck had a lot of promise. While the list he faced proved a worthy adversary, it was questionably built. Ironically, stealing cool or under-discussed archetypes and refining the list into something streamlined tends to be a way that Sheep (our team) comes up with a lot of our decks (see Roller Skates+Seismitoad-EX, Exeggutor, M Gardevoir, etc.), but I soon found in my testing that the deck clearly showed promise. If you’ll recall a few months back, I spent a good portion of my Sun & Moon format preparing an Expanded Lurantis deck for St. Louis Regionals. While I would flop at that tournament, finding a few to surprise people with Lurantis would possibly be a redemption of sorts. Here is the initial list that I took second place at a League Cup with:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
In general, I think that the overall core to Lurantis has much space to work with. There are many cards in this list (and likely the lists below) that could be replaced with almost anything without affecting the deck’s raw functionality. Lurantis is a reasonably large and consistent Pokémon that can provide a lot of “oomph” for little cost. Like M Manectric-EX from past format, energy acceleration is always good and allows for various tech attacker options. Though not featured in the initial list, I easily could have played Spinda to aid my Gyarados matchup, Sudowood to help against Skyfield decks, and different or additional Eeveelutions. This space allows the deck to adapt to a various metagames— there was even a time when I was trying Genesect-EX and Metal Energy in the deck!
What Lurantis has going for it, however, is the fact that it is simply strong, fast and consistent. While it lacks some of the firepower (heh) of, say, Volcanion decks, it makes up by not being too bothered by either Garbodor. The deck is built with a much heavier Supporter line than Item count, aiming to make Trashalanche more navigable while remaining as consistent as possible. Between Choice Band, the promo Lurantis, and Professor Kukui, your attackers are reaching reasonably high numbers (190 with the second attack and 200+ with the GX attack). The double copy of Pokémon Center Lady may look strange, but I think it is part of the core, as it focuses on healing as much as possible to keep Lurantis from being knocked out after two attacks. With the Supporter and the attack, you are able to heal 90 damage in one turn, and that is often enough to keep Garbodor or maybe Drampa-GX from executing its game plan.
The Grass typing and Energy acceleration make Greninja a breeze and should be resilient enough to deal with Sylveon-GX. My only loss at the tournament was to Decidueye/Vileplume, where I drew somewhat poorly throughout the entire best of three series. All of the games were close enough, but I continued to miss certain beats that made it all the more difficult (namely not finding Choice Band before Vileplume hit the board which made my math always a little short). This matchup is probably slightly unfavorable with this current build, but I am mostly optimistic that this can be fixed with some fine-tuning. I believe the overall core of the deck has a considerable amount of promise in the upcoming format (on the assumption that Volcanion stays nonexistent).
It should also be mentioned that at the time of the initial League Cup, Tapu Bulu-GX and the Tapu Koko promo were not legal, and I think both cards have the potential to buff the deck even further. Here is the list I have settled on with the given legality of the newer promo cards.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
10 Grass Energy
As you can tell, not a whole lot has changed in the transition from my League Cup list to this one. Essentially, I knew in advance that I would be playing an inferior deck simply because of the legality dates of several cards, but wanted to use the tournament as a testing opportunity to put my Lurantis theory into practice. After having a (mostly) good day at that tournament, I found that I was correct about Lurantis and do believe that it is well positioned in the right metagame. Tapu Bulu is a huge benefit, and I think it solves many of the problems I noticed myself facing while relying exclusively on Lurantis-GX as my main attacker.
Tapu Bulu has a much higher damage output than Lurantis without having to use a GX attack and goes well with the healing that our list has a soft focus on. Between Lurantis and Tapu Bulu, I think that it should be relatively easy to simply use either of the GX attacks to nuke some two-prize threat on the board, and then the last four prizes will come through KOing two EXs or maybe ignoring the defending Pokémon entirely and simply focusing on picking up free KOs on Tapu Lele-GX and Shaymin-EX.
The main changes between the initial list and this one are a combination of noticing what did and did not work from the first draft and changing things slightly to be more accommodating for Tapu Bulu. The increase of switching cards seems like a necessity as you’ll often use Nature’s Judgement with the discard effect, so being able to quickly transition back into Lurantis is vital. I am unsure where I fall in the debate between Brigette and Pokémon Fan Club, but I think Bridgette is clearly correct given our shift towards the Bulu focus. Perhaps even playing one of each is worth considering, but at my League Cup, I found Fan Club to be too slow a lot of the time. It should also be worth considering just cutting this slot entirely (and perhaps another card) for Level Ball(s).
I removed the copy of Brock’s Grit entirely, as it was too slow to find the time to play. I mostly kept it in my list to hedge against any Sylveon decks. I think that deck has died down considerably in hype and I think the matchup is probably still fine without it. Revitalizer is such a good card, and it was a mistake for me not to play two copies initially, so I am happy with that card being the only form of recovery. There are a few other things I am considering with this list at the moment, but for the most part, I think the core of this deck is somewhere around 55-56 cards and the final few additions are entirely up to the player depending on the foreseeable metagame. I really do like cards like Sudowoodo but for the time being, I think focusing on defeating Drampa/Garbodor is the correct direction to take the deck. The best way to do that is to keep Items to a relative minimum and include as many healing options as possible.
To end this section, let’s go over Lurantis’s matchups against the more popular archetypes!
Slightly Favorable to Slightly Unfavorable
This matchup has become harder and harder to pin down as the variance in the way this deck is built has increased dramatically with the release of Guardians Rising. Some players are playing it mostly the same, some with Alolan Ninetales-GX and Vileplume, some with Ninetales and no Vileplume, etc., etc. I think that against Vileplulme the matchup stays pretty even, if not somewhat skewed towards being slightly unfavorable for Lurantis. Contrastingly, I would say that it’s the exact same but in the opposite direction against the non-Vileplume variants.
The biggest factor in this matchup is whether or not Espeon-EX is included in the deck. This card was the sole reason for my loss at the League Cup, but perhaps with a bigger focus on Tapu Bulu, the matchup will become much more manageable. Ninetales is a little tricky as well, as you do not have a great way to attack into it to avoid Ice Path-GX being a large annoyance, but you do have the means to OHKO it much more easily now through Tapu Bulu.
Though not an auto-win by any stretch of the imagination, I do believe that Lurantis’s biggest strength comes from being able to win this matchup. I think that you have the means to control your Items very well throughout the game to keep Garbodor from being a giant threat. The healing factor is very good against both of their attackers, as it allows the Lurantis player to have control of most of the tempo. Through Tapu Bulu and Chloroscythe-GX, you control a lot of power, with the capacity to one-shot any of their Pokémon while they tend to lack that option until much later in the game. Additionally, Lurantis’s Solar Blade matches up perfectly with Garbodor’s HP.
I will include both the Lapras/Waterbox variants and Greninja in this section, as I believe they are both very winnable thanks to Grass Weakness. Lapras can pose some threat, as with fast enough draws, it can retaliate against Lurantis and Tapu Bulu with relative ease, but I think the advantage is still with our green friends. The inclusion of both Pokémon Center Lady and Olympia makes Blizzard Burn much, much less damaging, and I think that Lapras often relies on that attack to win many of their games. In a world with perfect draws, Lurantis can use Flower Supply for 180+ damage (Band + Promo x 2 from Weakness), and I just cannot imagine a Water player being able to handle that much aggression from a one energy attack.
Naturally, this will be our worst matchup by miles and miles. There is nothing you can do here — and that is totally okay! It is not worth trying to commit space to things like Vaporeon or Araquanid (which, notably, does not work at all anymore assuming Volcanion plays Tapu Lele) and so on.
Unfavorable (but, salvageable)
Without teching for Gyarados, I have no doubt that this matchup is an embarrassment, but I think that Gyarados is in a much more troublesome position now that Tapu Koko SMPR is legal. The card simply has no downsides, and I imagine many things will start to play it not only to hedge against Gyarados, but because it is worth playing in its own right. In Lurantis, there is a promo Celebi that I think could be a great Gyarados counter.
I remember complaining after the results of the Melbourne International about the dominance of Decidueye/Vileplume. If I recall correctly, it only took up about 24% of the Day 2 field and about 50% of the Top 8 and even those statistics remained troubling to me. However, these numbers get shaken up even more with the Top 32 of Seattle with 24 decks being Garbodor focused. For reference, here is the complete list of who and what made Top 32 this past weekend:
Top 32 Seattle Players/Decks
1. Daniel Lynch – Espeon-GX/Garbodor
2. Brad Curcio – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
3. Warren Younger – Espeon-GX/Garbodor
4. Tyler Yu – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
5. Jonathan Paranada – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
6. Zane Nelson – Drampa-GX/Garbodor/Sudowoodo
7. Drew Allen – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
8. Tyler Ninomura – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
9. Chase Moloney – Decidueye-GX/Vileplume
10. Kenny Britton – Drampa-GX/Tauros-GX/Garbodor
11. Ray Fernandez – M Rayquaza-EX
12. Aaron Rozbicki – Espeon-GX/Garbodor
13. Matthew Chin – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
14. Sam Chen – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
15. Alvin Ng – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
16. Andrew Gray – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
17. Travis Nunlist – Decidueye-GX/Vileplume
18. Kyle Stone – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
19. Jeffrey Cheng – Vespiquen AOR
20. Joey Gaffney – Espeon-GX/Drampa-GX/Garbodor
21. Kian Amini – Espeon-GX/Garbodor
22. Michael Chin – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
23. Caleb Gedemer – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
24. Jordan Nelle – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
25. Kenny Wisdom – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
26. Steven Toman – Alolan Ninetales-GX
27. Abraham Morales – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
28. Israel Sosa – Waterbox
29. Mark Garcia – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
30. Spencer Vanderpoel – Alolan Ninetales-GX/Decidueye-GX/Vileplume
31. Justin Bokhari – Decidueye-GX/Vileplume
32. David Tomhave-Alexie – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
From these 32, the Top 8 cut the field down to:
1. Brad Curcio – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
2. Tyler Ninomura – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
3. Jeffery Cheng – Vespiquen AOR
4. Israel Sosa – Lapras-GX/Box
5. Sam Chen – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
6. Kenny Wisdom – Drampa-GX/Garbodor
7. Warren Younger – Espeon-GX/Garbodor
8. Aaron Rozbicki – Espeon-GX/Garbodor
Standings sourced from The Charizard Lounge.
Sam Chen eventually took it all with the Trash Menace. In the case of Decidueye, we saw events that were largely dominated by the archetype and yet something would also slip through to take the crown. Volcanion won both Australia and Salt Lake City and Lapras-GX won in Virginia.
So what exactly could this dominance mean? Is Garbodor the real deal or was it just an instance of popularity? I’m actually not sure. Before this tournament, I recall expressing to Travis Nunlist that I did not think Drampa or Espeon Garbodor were necessarily that good of decks. Which is not to say that I think they were bad but simply that there was a better pairing available for Garbodor. Now it remains to be seen if such a deck could possibly exist and maybe we have already found the BDIF but I would be pretty surprised if we did not see a new archetype rise to the top between now and the North American International Championships. I look forward to seeing how this progresses but I would happy to hear what everyone else thinks on this matter!
As for the rest of my season, I have shifted everything into a Pokémon grind and am going to give everything that I have into finishing this invite. I know on one hand that if I fall short of the 500 point threshold that I really have no one else to blame but myself. I opted to skip many events and dropped with reasonable records at two of the Regionals I have attended, and in retrospect, I should have just stuck those tournaments out a little bit longer. After my second place with Lurantis, my Championship Point total is sitting effectively at 347, meaning I need to earn about 150 more points between Cups, Regionals and the International Championship.
I will be attending both Madison and Mexico City and will consider Origins as well depending on how I fair that these first two tournaments, but I am optimistic that I have what it takes to qualify for Worlds once again. I do apologize somewhat for talking about this struggle of mine in almost all of my articles, but I do think that it has shaped a narrative for me as a player this year. As I have sat out for most of the past two seasons, I think that I have come to miss the grind of the competitive circuit and am considering attending as much as I can next season regardless of how this one ends. Either way, I hope you have enjoyed my article today and I look forward to seeing many of you at upcoming events.
Until next time!
… and that will conclude this unlocked Underground article.
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