What’s up everyone! Burning Shadows will be released officially within the next few days, resulting in many testing games done without proxies. I’m currently scrambling to order essential cards which may end up in my Worlds deck. Unlike other players, I dislike the idea of introducing a new set immediately for Worlds. One could argue that it works well since Worlds accounts for the oncoming season, while others (including myself) would say that it is the culmination of the previous year, and deserves such treatment by using the previous format. Regardless of my opinion, it appears that this will be the trend going forward.
Previously, I covered my dying love for Espeon/Garbodor. Since, it’s fallen out of favor due to Gardevoir-GX alone. The deck continues to win its good matchups in Decidueye-GX variants, Drampa/Garbodor, Metagross, etc., but also struggles against newfound opponents. Volcanion is more difficult with the arrival of Kiawe and Guzma. However, there is great hope for my Psychic Sweetheart. Greninja has received plenty of hype going into Worlds, and rightfully so. Shadow Stitching is great against Gardevoir-GX, Volcanion-EX, Vikavolt, and ANY deck that runs Tapu Lele-GX. The main threat to the frog population in Anaheim stems from the forest—one made of giant plants. Decidueye-GX destroys Greninja because of 240 HP, and an easy attack that can 1HKO Greninja BREAK. I believe Greninja will be the most popular deck in Anaheim, so I’m covering decks that work well against that meta.
Espeon/Garbodor can survive in a Greninja-based meta, since Greninja scares away its poor matchups. Gardevoir and Volcanion are shunned away by Shadow Stitching, but Garbodor variants will stay. Drampa/Garbodor has a slightly better Greninja and Volcanion matchup, but does worse across the board. It recently took down Liverpool Regionals, similar to Seattle this past May. I believe this occurred because very few people play Espeon/Garbodor compared to Drampa/Garbodor. Other players in turn assume that Espeon-GX is an unfitting partner, and never consider it.
Going into Worlds, I would not consider playing Espeon/Garbodor for day 1. The two days are separate—they require different mindsets when competing. The first day requires an X-2 record. Decks that thrive in this kind of tournament are ones that take relatively good matchups, with one abysmal matchup. Greninja and Gyarados are the two that come to mind. Both work insanely well when they set up and execute their strategy. Another avenue of success involves playing a deck with even-good matchups all around the board, while playing better and getting slightly lucky to win. However, these strategies can fall apart due to hitting the bad matchups, bad luck, or unfamiliarity. In short, choose your deck based on the expected meta and what you want out of the tournament, but most importantly: play something you’re familiar with and won’t regret.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
The list is extremely similar to what I played at North America Internationals. Ditto XY40 was removed for an Acerola. Despite Vespiquen dying out, I’ve still included Oricorio. Oricorio is great in combination with Divide-GX, but also works well to pre-place damage counters for perfect Trashalanche math. I often find myself using Supernatural Dance against Greninja after the first couple KOs, to put 5-8 damage counters easily. Ditto was in place solely for Zoroark and Garbodor variants, both of which are dying off.
Psybeam + Choice Band is great for dealing with early threats in Gardevoir-GX, Drampa-GX, and other Espeon-GX. However, it will be more troublesome to use it effectively since Guzma’s release. Decks will have an easy way out of Confusion while going aggressive with a gust effect. One benefit for Psybeam is that some decks may not actually want the gust effect with the switch. It’ll be important to limit the opponent’s options when using Psybeam, since it’s very easily punished by Guzma. It may be the case where the Active Espeon-GX is heavily damaged, while everything else is relatively healthy.
The list has stayed mostly the same for good reason, but I’ll explain important cards in the list and those outside that are worth considering.
- 1 Acerola
Acerola is especially important in this deck. Not many Pokémon are capable of doing 200 damage easily, resulting in an easy Acerola targets. A nice way to put Items in the Discard is forcing Guzma and VS Seeker. I’ll be using Psybeam more often since it’s so easy to pick an Espeon-GX up with it. It’s especially great in the mirror match after the opponent uses Psybeam. Simply lay down the Eevee, search the deck for another Espeon-GX, and Psybeam again.
I enjoy this split in all decks. There will be some scenarios in which using 2 Guzma in place of a 1-1 split results in a failure, since inevitably you will not have a Float Stone or desirable target to switch into. I already fear that with a 1-1 split. There will be a case where my Lysandre is prized, in the deck, or in the discard where I don’t have access to it.
I continue to run 4 Float Stone since it’s great anyway. Do not change the amount of switching cards you run now that Guzma is included. I wouldn’t even take out Olympia in Volcanion if that was there beforehand. Having the switch effect with Guzma is nice, but I see it as a downside most of the time. Expect to see some Worlds matches where someone started poorly and uses Guzma to switch it, but has to Lysandre a poor target. Olympia would’ve been better.
I come back to this card because it exceeds my expectations. it has an infinite amount of uses, whether it be to destroy early Brigettes, force off 2 Prize Pokémon, or destroy Sky Field decks. The damage manipulation is also effective against Greninja and Volcanion. I originally had 2 Field Blower in the list, but it was a very effective change to swap one for a Parallel City. Having 0 removes options entirely, but having 2 is too many.
- Vaporeon: Great against Volcanion, but nothing else. Worth the space if Volcanion is extremely popular.
- Ditto XY40: Great against Garbodor and Zoroark. Has relatively low use in other scenarios, since it is so fragile.
- Necrozma-GX: May work well against Mega Rayqaza, but may also be useless. Necrozma-GX is only useful for Black Ray-GX, since the first attack does not work well with manual attachment decks.
- Oranguru: Great to recover against a lategame N. Allows you to play riskier and focus on developing as much as possible turn by turn, rather than overcommitting into Delinquent or discarding Supporters.
- Shaymin-EX: Works wonders with Parallel City, but has no spot in the list. Set Up is great for finding Tools and Energy the most.
- 3 Tapu Lele-GX: Provides extra consistency, but I would prefer a 4th Professor Sycamore first. Neither are necessary, but would be good to avoid poor draws every once in a while.
- Plumeria: Experimental idea that may be a bust or a success. Psychic relies on the opponent’s Energy, but isn’t necessary to take KOs. Plumeria would further improve the Decidueye and mirror matchups. Plumeria is objectively better than Team Flare Grunt, since it’s possible to remove Energy on the Bench without reducing damage immediately.
- Super Rod: Great for recovering early discards and Psychic Energy. Reduces the probability of being N’d to 1-2 and missing a Trashalanche. I run the 8th Psychic Energy instead to improve a T1 Psybeam percentage.
Great – Metagross, Decidueye/Vileplume, Vespiquen
Good – Decidueye/Alolan Ninetales, Drampa/Garbodor, Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu, Mega Rayquaza
Even(ish) – Volcanion, Greninja
Bad – Gardevoir, Darkrai
Espeon/Garbodor takes good matchups to a lot of the top decks, but struggles against the most hyped deck: Gardevoir-GX. Drampa/Garbodor concedes that matchup further since it has no effective way of dealing with Gardevoir-GX. It takes 3 Energies to do something meaningful, while Espeon/Garbodor can at least attempt to stall with Psybeam.
Darkrai is another bad matchup because of Resistance. By no means would I call it an auto-loss, but more like 40-60. Perhaps even 35-65. The only worry I have is the power to jump to a higher damage total with Darkrai-GX. The Darkrai player would have to use Max Elixir to reach beyond what they could with Energy + Choice Band, but now it’s possible with Resurrection. Garbotoxin used to be useless, but may be worth setting up to deny this extension. Despite this bad matchup, focus on using an early Lysandre to T2 Psychic a Darkrai-EX. You’ll lose the game when they hit 200 damage, so forcing them to Dark Pulse earlier prevents Oblivion Wing. Utilize Divide-GX to avoid activating Exp. Share. If you’re worried about this matchup, add in a 2nd Field Blower.
One misunderstood matchup I hear a lot about is Vikavolt. Many people call it favored for Vikavolt, but they don’t realize that Psybeam is very effective. Garbotoxin is also the way to go. In this matchup, they’ll use Guzma to get out of Confusion, but won’t be able to deal with Garbotoxin. They’ll have to choose to flip for Confusion, or attach a Float Stone and retreat. It’s very easy for me to remove the Float Stone and force them to Guzma. The matchup was “great” before Guzma, but this is the main sadness in Guzma’s release.
The last matchup to get into is Mega Rayquaza. Guzma’s release is also troublesome in this matchup, since Psybeam set up the math for a Psychic KO later. It’s not as easy anymore, but is still favored. Garbotoxin + N are insane, especially if it’s combined with Parallel City. It’s very easy to slow Mega Rayquaza down and lock them out of the game this way. The version using Mallow and Unown is more difficult than the traditional list, but is still favored.
Decidueye/Vileplume has the second best matchup against Greninja, trailing behind Pablo’s Golisopod/Decidueye. I’d argue that this version of Decidueye is faster than Decidueye/Alolan Ninetales. The Vileplume version utilizes Level Ball, while Alolan Vulpix makes up for the lack of it. An early Vileplume is also great for preventing Dive Ball and Ultra Ball after an immediate Water Duplicates. The key to shutting down Greninja is as they transition into Greninja: by the time they’ve reached the BREAK, the game is usually over.
Decidueye/Vileplume also has better matchups against Vikavolt, Mega Rayquaza, and Gardevoir than its Alolan Ninetales counterpart. In turn, it sacrifices Garbodor variants and Volcanion. The first time I played Decidueye/Vileplume was in Roanoke, and since then the engine has remained relatively the same. If I were playing in Day 1, it would be my top choice. It’s consistent, can win against everything when played right, but also has “auto-wins.” I put it in quotes since they’re unlike Mega Rayquaza vs. Mega Gardevoir, but are the most favored matchups in Standard currently.
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 30
Energy – 8
As you can see, there isn’t much to change from John Kettler’s 2nd Place NAIC list. The unique part of Decidueye decks is that a lot goes into its core. There’s very little room for uniqueness, but each card serves a specific purpose. I’ve focused on including the plethora of new Supporters added in Burning Shadows, since they all are incredibly impactful and beneficial to Decidueye’s plan. The first thing to cover is the debate on which Oddish, Gloom, and Vileplume to use.
I think the new Oddish is better, since it has a potential to reach over 10 damage. Granted it will never matter, but in some situations it may be correct to Poison a Sylveon-GX when you’re 0-2. Both of them have 1 Retreat Cost and 50 HP, so there’s no difference there. Gloom from Burning Shadows diverges and features a 2 Retreat Cost, while the one from Ancient Origins has 1. The new Gloom has the better attack, but retreating Gloom is much more important. Vileplume AOR is the butter to Decidueye’s bread, so there is no reason to include Vileplume BUS. At some points I’ll find myself stalling with a Vileplume, but I would never want 2 of them set up. By including 1 Vileplume BUS, you also run the risk of prizing the only Vileplume AOR, and having a bad time.
- 1 Acerola
Like AZ was, Acerola will be a staple in most decks. Especially for the large Pokémon-GX with 200+ HP, Acerola fits well with the strategy of coming from behind. It negates your opponent’s attack, (given that it only hit the Active Pokémon). It can also be used for picking up Vileplume should it ever become damaged. I believe an unexplored benefit to Acerola is being able to extend another 20 damage with Feather Arrow. Rainbow Energy might be worth running in a split: for example 2 Grass and 2 Rainbow. This opens up Tapu Cure-GX as an option, and allows for Acerola to be used by your own choice. Currently with this list, your opponent has to damage something before you can use Acerola.
- 1 Plumeria
Ah, my favorite inclusion. I experimented with Team Flare Grunt after Roanoke when Dalen Dockery told me about it. I found that it works extremely well in the mirror match, but also works wonders solely because of its unconventional place. Like I said with Field Blower in Zoroark, people won’t expect it. So many lists are posted online, like this one, and people naturally believe the standard lists are the only kind. I surprised many opponents with Ditto at Internationals, leading me to take wins in the right matchups. I even used Shadow Stitching against Greninja, preventing his win and setting up my own. Plumeria is a very versatile card; it even allows you to discard any Items remaining after setting up Vileplume.
I hope at this point it’s become self-explanatory why I run this split. Alas, I shall explain again, but for different reason. Espeon/Garbodor runs a split since it ran 4 Float Stone. There will never be a time where the switching is a downside. In Decidueye/Vileplume, it’s very important to switch. Preserving Decidueye by rotating damaged ones maximizes Feather Arrow damage and denies prizes. Guzma also reduces the odds of Vileplume being trapped Active against your will. However, Guzma is not the savior of the owls at all times. The deck only runs 2 Float Stone, so there will be times when it’s a downside.
Additional cards that may be worth including:
- Lugia-EX: Deep Hurricane is great for nuking high HP, Energy efficient Pokémon-GX. However, I don’t see it as an option since Tapu Lele-GX is already good enough. It is the same as Aero Ball, but has 1 less Retreat Cost, and adds consistency to the deck.
- Espeon-EX: Great against the Stage 1 Pokémon-GX: Alolan Ninetales, Espeon, as well as mirror. Greatly helps certain matchups, but is also very useless in others.
- Drampa-GX: Righteous Edge is the main part of this card, since it allows Feather Arrow damage to supplement the low output.
- Tapu Koko SM30: Wonderful at spreading early on against Gardevoir and Garbodor. Has a more fitting home in the Alolan Ninetales version, since that focuses on spreading + devolving more than the Vileplume version.
- 3rd gust effect: I am a huge fan of this, but replaced the 2nd Lysandre for Plumeria. Lysandre stalling will be less effective with Guzma’s introduction, so Plumeria disrupts in an unexpected, niche way.
Great – Darkrai, Greninja, Vespiquen
Good – Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu, Mega Rayquaza, Metagross
Even(ish) – Drampa/Garbodor, Decidueye/Alolan Ninetales
Bad – Espeon/Garbodor, Volcanion, Gardevoir
pokemonscreenshots.tumblr.comNow looking at this list of matchups, you may be completely amazed about how I can think this deck is good with these matchups. The best deck in format should have an upside-down triangle for matchups, no? However, the “bad matchups” listed—with the exception of Espeon/Garbodor—aren’t extremely bad. If I were to put a percentage on it, I’d say 40-60. It’s unfavorable, but can win based off of luck.
There are tons of deck ideas and articles to be written about Burning Shadows. I agree with Christopher in that it doesn’t offer much, but what is given is appreciated. Acerola, Guzma, and Kiawe have potential to be very impactful Supporters. Gardevoir-GX may be a redefining part of the format. Other Pokémon-GX have yet to be explored!
Overall, I’m looking forward to Worlds solely for the experience. For me, it acts as a gathering of friends more than a tournament. I’m going to be competing as hard as anyone else, but it’s a good way to finish off the 2016-2017 season. I want to win, but I’m also content with my season. Good luck to all in Anaheim!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.