Hola 6P readers! In my last article just a couple of weeks ago, we explored Gardevoir-GX, Golisopod-GX and Ho-OH-GX and how they would become their own standalone decks or be included in already existing ones.
Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to practice and tweak with new lists and cards through the use of proxies. I’ve discovered quite a few different things since then, as my preparation for the World Championship continues.
General Thoughts on PRC–BUS
Going into Worlds and the Anaheim Open, I believe there are 5 very clear strong deck choices. These are (in no particular order):
- Greninja BREAK
The Gardevoir-GX hype is completely justified. Not only is the card in itself good, but the predicted metagame surrounding it kind of works in its favor with Volcanion-EX based decks perceived as the other deck to beat at Worlds. Coincidentally, Volcanion decks are the perfect counter to Gardevoir’s bad matchup.
Metagross-GX is an unmistakably bad matchup for Gardevoir-GX decks but who would play such a deck unless you can guarantee the field will be 50%+ Gardevoir-GX? I will touch more on Metagross-GX later in the article, but the Metagross-GX lists that we’ve all come to know I find are underwhelming against anything not named Gardevioir-GX. This deck makes the list because of it’s inherent advantage against Gardevoir-GX, but definitely feels underwhelming against the other 4 decks listed above.
Golisopod-GX is a lot better than I thought it would be and First Impression’s drawback of needing to attack from the bench is actually easily mitigated with the correct list and a decent flow of the deck. The other 2 attacks are extremely good too, especially the GX attack when you just need that extra oomph of damage.
Finally, Greninja BREAK is in a very weird position where it could easily pummel through the top 2 threats (Gardy and Volc), deal with Metagross and perhaps have a fighting chance with Talonflame BREAK against Decidueye lists. However, as I very well know, the deck can just fall into the bad draw phenomenon known as ‘Greninja hands’. This deck could be a very high risk and high reward choice for Worlds and the Anaheim Open. However, I feel it would be more suited for Day 2 and the Open after we’ve seen what shows up in decent numbers during Day 1 and more importantly, what advances on to Day 2.
Without any tournament results that contain decks using Burning Shadows cards to base a prediction on, my guess is as good as yours as to what will be played in big numbers at the upcoming events. What we can do however, is predict its effect based on the previous releases and the perceived power of the cards being released in the set.
When Sun & Moon came out, and we had the first Regional happen (Anaheim, coincidentally), we saw players default back to safe decks such as M Mewtwo-EX or Dark Dragons, and the best performing deck with the new cards was Jon Kettler’s Decidueye/Vileplume. Sun & Moon didn’t have a big impact immediately, but later on Decidueye-GX ended up dominating the format up until the next set was released.
Guardians Rising was a completely different monster as it brought Garbodor into the main stage. It dominated the first Regional in Seattle by a long shot, and it recently won the biggest tournament in Pokémon history. Safe to say, the hype for this card was real and completely justified.
So where does Burning Shadows fit in? I’m going to say right in the middle. The set isn’t as weak as Sun & Moon was, in the sense that we have results from Japan proving a handful of the new GXs are viable, but it’s not as format defining as Garbodor was perceived to be.
I think it’s the perfect set to be released right before Worlds, because it will add to the metagame and reward creativity, but not completely alter the way decks need to be built like the release of Garbodor GRI did.
With all of this in mind, my testing has been mainly focused on those 5 decks I mentioned, with Decidueye-GX/Golisopod-GX as the main deck I’ve been favoring so far. The deck is very versatile and less linear than the rest, as the correct allocation of Feather Arrow’s is extremely important to ensure you’re able to close out games.
My current iteration of the deck that I have sleeved after around 20ish games is as follows:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 32
Energy – 8
The deck has changed quite a bit and I’ve tried quite a few different things so far, but this is the list I’m most comfortable with at the moment.
4/3/3 Decidueye-GX: This line has stayed pretty consistent throughout. 4/3/3 is the best compromise between knowing you need Decidueye-GX to increase Golisopod-GX’s damage cap and also including other cards such as Acerola and Trainers’ Mail in the deck.
3/2 Golisopod-GX: The more I played with the deck, I realized a 4/3 line was a huge commitment and you never really need more than 2 Golisopod-GX in play anyway, so the 2 extra spots were a welcome addition.
2 Tapu Lele-GX: Besides the obvious Wonder Tag ability, it’s a great follow up attacker in many matchups and very cost efficient too.
2 Shaymin-EX: Seeing 1 of these in decks is now very rare, so seeing 2 is actually pretty surprising, but it works really well in this deck simply because Forest of Giant Plants allows you to play down your hand easily and refresh it in order to try and set up as many Decidueye as possible.
1 Tapu Koko: Great to combo with Guzma and Golisopod, along with spreading damage to set up KOs as the match goes on.
The Item lineup is a little more interesting as we see the return of Trainers’ Mail into the lineup. This card hasn’t seen serious play in most decks since Garbodor. The only decks that kept using these are ones such as Vespiquen or Gyarados, which weren’t able to function properly without it and could trade efficiently with Garb decks.
Trainers’ Mail adds another layer of consistency, especially in a deck that tries to thin out and set up as many Decidueye-GX as possible early on. This card was vital in my Melbourne run up to second place, and we saw Jon Kettler and Igor Costa use them effectively in their respective Decidueye-GX variants at the North American International Championship.
Not only can it fetch Supporters or Ultra/Level Ball to get the Pokémon going, being able to find a Forest of Giant Plants and playing down your hand before playing a Supporter is very useful. I’d love to find the space for a 4th Trainers’ Mail if the list allowed.
With this, we’re basically saying we’ll take a bad matchup to Garbodor, but the First Impression attack being a convenient 1HKO on Garbodor mitigates this to an extent. Both versions of Garbodor decks, Drampa-GX and Espeon-GX, have different inherent advantages over a deck like this one, so might as well accept that loss and improve your overall consistency against everything else.
The energy balance in this deck is delicate as you can’t completely drop Double Colorless Energy as Tapu Lele-GX and Decidueye-GX are very good attackers, but you need a healthy amount of Grass energy to make sure you can consistently attack with Golisopod-GX.
So now that we’ve gone through the list in detail, let’s take a look at how the matchups play out against the top tier decks, along with other fringe matchups that we might expect to see in these upcoming events.
The matchup is quite even between the 2 new GXs. Golisopod’s low cost attack and high HP makes it a really good attacker against Gardevoir-GX. Gardevoir-GX needs to commit a lot of energy to get 1HKOs but it also needs to set up and it doesn’t have Forest of Giant Plants to help it. The early game is the most important aspect of the matchup. Golisopod wants to start applying pressure as the more aggressive deck from the beginning but if Gardevoir-GX manages to stabilize, it becomes a snowball effect where Golisopod-GX isn’t able to cope with the damage output and loses on the Prize trade off.
The dreaded fire matchup for Grass decks. Kiawe means Volcanion-EX applies pressure from the get go with any of it’s attackers and it doesn’t even need to use energy on Steam Up to get 1HKOs on most of your Pokémon. Tapu Lele-GX is great here in the sense that it forces your opponent to Steam Up and can also punish a turn 1 Kiawe on an active Pokémon or be a good closer provided you’ve placed your Feather Arrows correctly. This matchup is where Field Blower shines as it is essential to remove Fighting Fury Belts to get closer to KOs. First Impression with Choice Band and Feather Arrows damage actually starts to pile up decently quickly, so you’re not always on the losing side of trades, especially with late game N’s and the drawbacks of Volcanion-EX and Ho-Oh’s attacks possibly slowing them down.
This is quite a grindy matchup, but definitely favorable. It’s grindy in the sense that going through various 250 HP Pokémon with access to 3 Max Potions can be daunting and requires good resource management, along with correct Feather Arrow placement to maximize your damage output. Acerola is a premium card here as Metagross-GX can never hit for a 1HKO on Golisopod-GX so the constant healing and increased damage output through Feather Arrows makes this a favorable matchup.
Greninja BREAK (80/20):
This is the easiest matchup of them all. Weakness plus high HP means a rough time for Greninja BREAK players. You might even prefer to favor setting up a Decidueye-GX over Golisopod-GX although both do more than enough damage to KO everything in the deck. Not even versions with Talonflame BREAK should trouble you, simply because Golisopod-GX deals overall more damage and can deal with that single threat.
With 2 favorable matchups, a 50/50 and a bad matchup, it’s not quite clear that Golisopod-GX is the best choice. However, there are other decks such as Vespiquen, Gyarados, and even Zoroark decks that you’re likely to see and which are all inherently good matchups for this deck with the high damage output and extra damage counter placements.
The other 2 bad matchups for this deck I consider to be M Rayquaza-EX and Garbodor. Neither of these matchups are as bad as Volcanion-EX, and they’re not included in the top tier decks for various reasons.
M Rayquaza-EX (30/70):
This matchup is difficult as at best you’re trading 2HKOs with their attackers and your extra damage counters don’t play that much of a factor. They can take 1HKOs on your attackers with 7 or 8 Basic Pokémon to 1HKO Golisopod or Decidueye respectively. Any time you replace a Sky Field, whatever was damaged by Feather Arrow other than Ray’s will end up getting immediately discarded. Spreading with Tapu Koko a couple of turns and is a solid way to go about this matchup, and a constant stream of N’s to deny them the Sky Field later on is your best bet. They do need quite a few pieces to pull off 1HKOs so the matchup isn’t as tilted as the Volcanion one, but no Item lock means they have free access to their resources.
As mentioned before, Garbodor is inherently a bad matchup. Espeon-GX versions are worse as they have access to Flareon and thus they can take some easy 1HKOs on your main attackers, so prioritizing KOs on unevolved Eevees or the Flareon is a priority. Golisopod-GX can take on Garbodor GRI and trade decently well with it, along with being able to 1HKO Garbodor BKT, something that Decidueye/Vileplume decks have a very hard time doing so. If you manage to set up without using too many Items in the process, and manage to keep Flareon at bay, their attackers become underwhelming and Confusion is a non-issue with Guzma and Float Stone.
This version is a little bit better than the other one for the deck, as Drampa-GX isn’t as big of a threat since it can never deal 210 damage in one hit, and you won’t be delayed by any Righteous Edge energy discards most of the time. It’s still not a great matchup due to the decks reliance on Items for a speedy set up, but if you manage to use only a few during set up, you can definitely take control of the game with 1HKOs on Garbodor GRI and netting extra Prize cards through the use of Feather Arrow.
If this deck was built to take a more anti-Garbodor approach, then these 2 last matchups mentioned could be more bearable and the Drampa-GX version could be favorable for sure. Cards like Brigette over Level Ball, replacing the Trainers’ Mails with an extra Grass or Double Colorless energy, an extra N and an extra Guzma are all decent options to try and improve the Garbodor matchup. However, I genuinely think not many of the top players will end up using such decks.
Next up on my testing list are definitely perfecting a Gardevoir-GX deck, and trying out an innovative Metagross-GX deck with a focus on streaming Necrozma-GX 1HKOs. The one downfall to this deck is the psychic weakness for sure, but having access to both 1HKO potential with Necrozma-GX and steel typing to counter Gardevoir-GX decks is very appealing and these are the 2 decks I will be concentrating on now, having fleshed out Golisopod-GX to a point where I feel very comfortable with the deck and the current list.
I’m really really excited to see what decks will pop up on Day 1 and what new and creative decks people bring to the Pokémon World Championships! Thank you so much for reading my article once again. Until next time!
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