Hola SixPrizes amigos! Glad to be back for another article with only a mere 10 days before the event of the season.
Since my last article, we’ve had lots of exciting news regarding next season. I want to give my point of view on that simply because I’m a player who lives outside the United States but (for the foreseeable future) will be competing there at many of the big events.
Thoughts on Season Structure
Let’s start with the removal of Best Finish Limits from Regional Championships. This decision has been the most controversial and has caused many people to claim that a Top X to make Day 2 in whatever region you live in is now simply a pay to win.
I think there’s 2 things we must consider here. First off, removing Best Finish Limits (BFL for short) encourages travel to more tournaments throughout the whole season. I personally might’ve only planned for 5 or 6 US Regionals, counting on adding that to Mexico City and a couple of Special events. However, now I’m actually considering attending at least 8 or so in the United States, to make sure I stay at the top of the pack of the LATAM region. My situation is quite unique, being a part of one region and competing in another, but I’m sure the removal will encourage more travel over all.
Secondly, some real talk here: TPCi most likely doesn’t care whose name is on the Top 16 of the NA region. Be it winning 4 Regionals in a single season, or accumulating 15 Top 64/32 finishes, TPCi cares about successful events, streams and the game’s continued growth which leads to more sales.
The other big change is the reduction of the CP threshold in NA (and other regions too) down to 400. Many people are putting forth that this makes Worlds a less prestigious event, especially now that you can qualify purely through local events by winning 8 League Cups. I do have a problem with this way of thinking for two reasons. One, I don’t agree with the fact that the event is less prestigious as a whole, simply because Day 1 Worlds is essentially a Last Chance Qualifier and the prestige of making it through to Day 2 or qualifying directly is still there. Two, there are many people who have yet to play at Worlds and the CP reduction might encourage them to not only try harder but attend more events, which in turn helps the game grow.
Disagreeing with the new CP bar when you’re a player who could qualify to Worlds given a 400 CP requirement or an 800 CP requirement makes no sense to me. I remember the excitement of qualifying and playing at my first Worlds in 2004 and I cannot help but feel happy that next year, many more people will probably get to feel this the same way I did back then.
Finally, the lack of a BFL for the International Championships adds to that snowball effect which is the biggest complaint so far, This is what I can agree with the most, as it directly affects me and the Mexican player base. It’s one thing to have 13 Regionals in one single country and and not cap the amount that count toward a players ranking. Another completely different is traveling abroad to faraway places such as England, Australia and Brazil in order to be able to compete for said spot. I think a BFL of 1 or maximum 2 would be much more adequate for these kind of events. There’s only a handful of people who can travel to all 4 Internationals, and thus the BFL would not discourage a huge number of people from traveling to the ones they already had planned to go to.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s move on to the real reason we’re all here. The World Championships are upon us. I’m definitely starting to feel the pressure amp up in this format where I’m not any closer to deciphering what the play is.
Burning Shadows and Guardians Risings have had a huge impact on the perceived viability of decks and there seem to be at least 10-12 completely viable options for this event (and the Anaheim Open of course).
Initially I explored 3 decks I was most interested in, Gardevoir, Golisopod/Decidueye and Volcanion variants. I found Gardevoir-GX and Golisopod-GX to be vastly different in the way they work but also very much to my liking. Volcanion is a deck I’ve never really favored and I can’t exactly pinpoint as to why but it’s simply not appealing to me.
The Gold Standard: Drampa/Garbodor
One deck that I have seen being discarded by many players (who might regret it later) is Garbodor/Drampa. Not only is the deck very consistent, it has all the disruption tools you could possibly want with Energy denial, Ability denial and a soft Item denial too.
Basically, if Garbodor is perceived as less of a threat in a metagame, players will be more inclined to add more Items to their lists in order to speed up their decks against other matchups. This in turn makes Garbodor more powerful. Thus, its potential in the metagame is dictated by how big of a threat it is perceived as.
With Gardevoir-GX being around and talked about so much, it makes sense for Garbodor to not appear as threatening, as its GX attack can potentially reduce Garbodor’s damage output to 0. However, the new Stadium Po Town from Burning Shadows provides a new option to activate Drampa’s Berserk. Not only is the stadium a bit easier to pull off than Team Magma’s Secret Base, it’s also a much more readily available card and has other potential uses by setting up KOs on evolved Pokémon for Drampa-GX whenever it is not countered before evolving.
Taking a look at the NAIC results and the recent Liverpool Regional, it’s no surprise the deck is still at the top. I do agree it is a bit weaker with Burning Shadows in the fray but I think people are underestimating just how powerful it still is.
I usually tend to favor super consistent decks such as Tord Reklev’s 1st place list from NAIC, over more teched out lists like Sam Chen’s 3rd place deck. However, I do feel a happy medium can be reached. This is what I currently have built for my Worlds testing:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
3 Po Town
Energy – 12
As you can see, the list remains very consistent and there’s only 2 significant changes. First off, there’s no more Rainbow Energy nor Magma Base in the list. Second is the addition of Guzma over Lysandre. With 4 Float Stone, the switch effect from Guzma should never be a hindrance. On the other hand, it provides a very useful way to switch out from random Special Conditions such as Sleep or Paralysis which could potentially give your opponent a turn to make a comeback. How many times has a Greninja deck tried to use Froakie’s Bubble in order to try and survive a turn while it is trying to build up to the BREAK?
Also worth noting, the lack of tech Pokémon such a Sudowoodo, Oricorio or Tapu Koko Promo is intentional, as there are currently no tournaments whatsoever from which we can base results off of and determine what to expect at the upcoming events. I would venture to say decks such as Vespiquen, Gyarados and Mega Ray will most definitely see play. In what amount, I don’t really know, but in my opinion, you can handle all 3 decks without these techs.
For those of us playing directly in Day 2 or the Anaheim Open, we have an advantage as we’ll be able to see the numbers of Day 1 at Worlds and what the top tables are playing. However, Day 1 Worlds I believe is an enigma for everyone, and my personal advice would be to default to a good meta deck that you’re very comfortable with, as trying to predict accurately the most played decks seems pretty difficult at this point in time.
I’ve definitely focused my efforts on a small handful of decks so far, namely Gardevoir, Golisopod/Decidueye, Volcanion and Garbodor. However, I’ve also spent a little time exploring a few fringe options: Noivern-GX and Turbo Dark.
Noisy Nevertheless: Noivern
My list of Noivern-GX has had a couple of iterations, going from a turbo version with a heavy Wally, Level Ball and Tapu Lele count to its current iteration which is a bit slower but more focused on the disruption with cards like Garbotoxin Garbodor, Flare Grunt, Plumeria and Silent Lab.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 33
Energy – 11
Noivern immediately appears strong with Item and Special Energy denial attacks, along with the possibility of a turn 1 attack with Wally and Double Dragon Energy. However, Item denial got significantly weaker with Garbodor’s presence leading to a decrease in Item useage. Also, Special Energy dependent decks are not very popular at the moment, and that means the deck will struggle against top tier decks like Gardevoir (weakness) and Volcanion (focus on Supporters and purely basic Energy).
Garbodor BKP is a nice pairing for Noivern to add another layer of disruption with Ability lock, and Garbodor GRI provides a bigger threat than Noivern-GX with its potential damage output in the later stages of the game. Team Flare Grunt and Plumeria provide some extra disruption in the form of Energy denial, as under Item lock, decks usually try to build up one big threat to deal with your attacker. These cards are great to slow them down.
The Standard format going into Worlds is probably a bit too fast for Noivern, but if the DCE based decks such as Vespiquen, Gyarados and Mega Ray make a big showing on Day 1, perhaps Noivern could be a good choice as both the Item lock and the Special Energy lock really hinder these type of decks.
The Dark Reign: Turbo Dark
The penultimate deck I want to talk about prior to Worlds is Turbo Dark. It gained a new attacker with a great Ability in Darkrai-GX. The GX attack is difficult to pull off unless you build your deck around using it, by using Pokémon such as Salazzle SUM, Hypno BKP and All-Night Party or something like Ariados AOR. However, the Ability makes it worth including nonetheless.
With this, I ended up defaulting back to the original Turbo Dark list popularized by the Schulz brothers in Europe and which saw a few make Top 64 at the NAIC.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 36
4 EXP Share
Energy – 14
Darkrai-GX’s role is just to get one more energy into play. It’s not the main focus of the deck, but it’s a very nice option to have. The rest of the list remains the same except Guzma completely replaces Lysandre, giving the deck an option to remove Special Conditions such as Sleep or Paralysis which you couldn’t before in a reliable way. Altar of the Moone ensures the switching drawback is never an issue so Guzma is a perfect fit for the deck.
I’ve considered adding the Darkrai promo with Abyssal Sleep to this deck as a more powerful non-ex attacker than Yveltal, but comitting 3 energy to a Pokémon in this deck and not dealing huge amounts of damage just doesn’t work well, and there are rarely any instances where you’d rather do that attack than keeping up the pressure with Darkrai-EX’s Dark Pulse.
The single Hex Maniac is something I included prior to NAIC, and I was even up to 2 of these as I figured they would be the key to flipping the Metagross and Vikabulu matchups in my favor. It didn’t quite pan out that way and I went back down to 1, but there’s definitely wiggle room in the list to experiment with. Other Supporters such as Pokémon Center Lady and Acerola should be considered, or even Sophocles can combo well with both Yveltal and Darkrai-GX.
I’d need a whole week of articles to cover every single deck that has gained traction going into the final event of the season, but I believe between all the writers we’ve covered the big main decks. I’d be really surprised if some sort of unexpected deck took Worlds like it did last year with Mega Audino, and I currently don’t have any surprises up my sleeves.
Leaping to New Heights: Greninja
One final option I really want to consider is Greninja but it has already broken my heart way too many times. The infamous Greninja hands are a real thing and I definitely suffered them at the beginning of the season enough times to finally decide to stop playing the deck. I won’t fault anyone for deciding to use it, as on paper it does seem to have good matchups against top decks such as Gardevoir, Volcanion and Metagross. However, I don’t want to be part of the group of people posting Worlds reports of how I dead-drew with the deck and lost what were supposed to be good matchups.
If I were to use Greninja, I’d definitely go with the Talonflame version as I find it to be the most consistent of them all. Here’s how I would build the deck:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 32
Energy – 9
Aero Blitz is a great way to set up and even games where you don’t start Talonflame, you have 7 different kinds of Ball Items in Ultra Ball and Dive Ball to ensure you get going. Games where you prize 2 Frogadier or 2 Froakie are rare enough that statistically they shouldn’t make or break your run at a tournament.
The only other change in the deck are the 2 Guzma. Greninja always tends to use only 1 gust effect but I prefer to use 2 as it improves the odds of having it when you need it, along with the chance of discarding it early and thus having access to the card immediately at any point through VS Seeker.
Regardless, if you do run into that bad streak of 2 hands in a single Bo3, losing one too many rounds to a bad hand rather than a bad matchup could be the difference between making Day 2 or not at the World Championships. If you do decide to go with Greninja, I bid you the best of luck and hope you avoid Greninja hands during the tournament.
This concludes my article my final article before Worlds. Next time you hear from me, we’ll be analyzing all the action during the weekend and the upcoming Standard format rotation, along with a few examples of ways to build decklists for said format. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope to see a lot of you at Anaheim this upcoming weekend!
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