I don’t like playing the best deck. I have shared this before, but one of my guiding philosophies in deck choice before a tournament is as follows: If Deck A and Deck B both give me roughly the same chance to win the tournament – based on their consistency, matchup spread, etc. – and Deck A is a popular archetype and Deck B is not, then I will choose Deck B every time.
There are a few reasons for this. Most importantly, if I am playing a less popular deck (even if it is a “known” deck), then inherently other players will have less experience playing against it. This means they will not understand the intricacies of the matchup as well as versus Deck A and I will have an advantage. If Deck B is a very under the radar play or entirely new deck, then this effect gets magnified even more. Some recent examples of this philosophy on my deck choice: Philadelphia Regionals 2016 I played Accelgor/Wobbuffet (RIP), a fringe deck in the Expanded format compared to my other top choice, Seismitoad/Crobat.
However, I also believe there are times in Pokémon where you simply cannot justify playing anything except the best deck. We saw this a lot when Night March was so dominant in the 2015-2016 season. Going into Nationals 2016, I desperately wanted to play anything but Night March. We tested so many weird concepts (we even tested Night March/Vileplume!) and nothing was good enough—so on the eve of the tournament, Ross and I sleeved up our Night March list and called it a day. Did it feel good? No. But it felt like playing Night March would give us the best chance at winning the tournament, and that is what matters most.
Today, we are living in a format absolutely dominated by a single deck: Gardevoir-GX. I have tested some other stuff in preparation for this article and just to explore the new format in general, but I am still convinced Gardevoir is far and away the best deck in the format. I see no compelling reason to play anything except Gardevoir-GX for the near future. The last time we have seen such dominance in the game is ironically when a different Gardevoir held the title of BDIF. Today, I would like to talk about what it means to play the best deck, look at some potential twists to the Gardevoir/Sylveon list that dominated the BKP–BUS format, and end with some fringe ideas that may have potential.
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