Hello once again! It’s good to be back, and I hope that everyone is starting to get as eager as I am for the North American International Championships that is less than a week away. I am trying to practice each and every turn to come to a reasonable conclusion as to what deck I should play and I hope that Six Prizes’ marathon of articles is helping aid this process for many of us.
Being able to sift through the thoughts of so many different writers on so many different decks has really helped me cut some corners in my playtesting, and while I do not necessarily agree with every single utterance, I have found that I generally am on the same page as all of my fellow writers. The general consensus amongst my peers (and presumably much of the community) is that the biggest decks going into next weekend will most likely be Espeon-GX/Garbodor GRI and Zoroark BKT/Drampa-GX.
These decks have had very consistent showings since their emergence in the new format, and I would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks a third deck could possibly be more popular. This is not to say, of course, that there will not be a wide body of other decks within the meta-game in Indianapolis, but I think acting as if Espeon and Zoroark are the tier 1 is a given moving forward.
Not much time has passed since my last article, and subsequently, my progress towards the 500 CP finish line remains mostly the same. At the end of my last piece, I noted that I thought that Decidueye/Vileplume would be my ideal play leading into the coming weeks and I played the exact 60 (with a third Level Ball being the 60th card) at a smaller League Cup last weekend. My feelings on Decidueye as a whole have cooled a considerable amount, and I think I echo the thoughts of most players when I am skeptical of whether or not the deck can be viable with Espeon remaining so popular. I went 3-0-2 in Swiss rounds (best of three, 50 minutes) netting a tie round one against the mirror, beating three non-Garbodor decks and then intentionally drawing the final round.
After that, I unfortunately ran into Espeon in Top 8, and was promptly eliminated, netting me zero points for the weekend. The deck felt incredibly clunky, and while I suspected it for a while, I have ultimately come to the conclusion that Vileplume is poorly suited for the current format. The introduction of Tapu Lele-GX into every single deck throws a large wrench into its general machinations. Tapu Lele allows decks to consistently find ways to draw without relying on Items, and makes it easier to find Lysandre to bring Vileplume into the active position — either as a means to stall the game or simply take the knockout.
Additionally, decks that have built themselves in a way to combat Garbodor’s Trashalanche are also that much better against Vileplume, which furthers the difficulty of certain matchups. Very small choices like playing a fourth N over that fourth VS Seeker ever-so-slightly tilt things against Vileplume, and at the end of the day, all these little things end up adding up to a much larger impact. While I do not deny the potential of Decidueye as a deck for the International Championship, I would advise all to work on lists sans Vileplume instead of the older forms of the archetype.
Thankfully, I do have two final League Cup opportunities this weekend, so fingers crossed that I am able to make the finals at one of these to set myself up to only need a top 256 to finish my invite. Unfortunately, both of my final Cups are Expanded, which is something I have absolutely no clue about — so, if anyone has any insight to the format, I am all ears. If anything, this occurrence really illustrates the continuous disconnect between tournament organizers and players. That is, why on earth would anyone schedule an Expanded event with the biggest Standard event of the year looming on the horizon? I digress.
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