Hello SixPrizes readers! I just got back from Memphis Regionals, and while I am excited to take a break from traveling, I still have a lot of Pokémon to play! I have yet to get to a League Cup this quarter, so the remaining ones are very important for my top sixteen chances. Memphis was a ton of fun, as I got to play in the team tournament on Friday. My team, CCG Castle, ended up taking home the win which was very exciting. I also enjoyed playing on the team stage in the actual event throughout the weekend and I would love to see similar stuff in the future. Anyways, today I will be discussing the deck that everyone loves to hate: Greninja!
I have actually been a fan of the Frogs since the beginning, as it immediately stood out as a very strong archetype. I have only pulled the trigger on the deck at one other large tournament, where I placed top sixteen with my ultra consistent list at Georgia last year. Since then, I had never really found an event where I thought it was my best option, despite always liking the deck.
That is, until, Memphis rolled around! I was a huge fan of the deck in testing after London; it felt smooth and had a slew of good matchups. I was a bit weary at first because it was unfavored against Tord’s Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX deck, but that quickly died down in popularity. This left me pondering just how popular Giratina Promo and Garbodor would be, as I felt they were the only cards I really didn’t want to play against. Most people understand that this is the case, but choose not to play it out of fear of dead drawing. The deck is simply not as inconsistent as it once was, and I bricked a fantastic zero times with it during the event. I dead drew a few times in testing of course, but I never felt like Greninja was doing it much more frequently than any other decks. I decided to take my slew of good matchups and hope to dodge my potential counters, here is how everything worked out.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 31
Energy – 10
Round 1: Gardevoir-GX/Max Potion WW (1-0)
Round 2: Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor LL (1-1)
Round 3: Greninja WLW (2-1)
Round 4: Volcanion-EX/Volcanion WW (3-1)
Round 5: Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX WW (4-1)
Round 6: Volcanion-EX/Volcanion WW (5-1)
Round 7: Gardevoir-GX/Max Potion/Giratina Promo LL (5-2)
Round 8: Gardevoir-GX/Max Potion/Giratina Promo WLT (5-2-1)
Round 9: Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX WW (6-2-1)
My tournament definitely had its ups and downs, as I played against a combination of three Giratina Promo/Garbodor and zero Zoroark-GX decks, which is pretty crazy. On the bright side, I did get to play against two Volcanion decks which was quite nice. I knew that Garbodor and Giratina would be very hard for me to deal with, so I accept that I took a risk that didn’t pay off. If I could do the tournament over, I would play the same deck with a one card change. I would remove a Choice Band for a Field Blower because I think I could have beat the Garbodor deck with just a single copy.
While Skyla is generally considered a weak supporter option in today’s times, I think that Skyla fits very well in this deck. Not only is it a great turn one option for grabbing a key early game card such as Brooklet Hill, but it can be used to search out crucial trainers once your already setup. I frequently used Skyla to search for an Enhanced Hammer or Choice Band in order to make a big play. You have to keep in mind that the opponent is under Shadow Stitching and usually has a low hand size by this point, so their options are very limited. Since you are not being pressured, you can take your time and use a Skyla without taking much of a risk.
This is another supporter that isn’t seen in most decks nowadays, but has seemingly been accepted as a staple in Greninja. I certainly liked the inclusion of Lillie this weekend, as it helped me boost my early game consistency even further. I frequently just got down two Froakie and used Lillie as my supporter for the turn, which almost guarantees that a turn two Water Duplicates will occur. Lillie is also an additional option for drawing cards in the late game, which can sometimes be a way to lose if Starmie is not on the board.
I chose to play the third copy of Choice Band instead of an Espeon-EX. I did this for a few reasons, but pretty much all of them relate to consistency. I never want to start the Espeon-EX when playing this deck, as I always want to be starting a Froakie. Removing the Espeon-EX helps to achieve this goal, which I feel makes the early game go much smoother. I also found Choice Band to be a pretty important card in the current meta, so I wanted to make them as easy to access as possible. With 3 Choice Bands and 2 Skyla, I pretty much never had a problem. The additional copy of Choice Band also made it much harder to run out of them, even if I had to make the dreaded play of putting two on the field at once.
This card is absolutely incredible in the current meta, and it did not surprise me to see that six players in the top eight had Enhanced Hammer in their deck. In addition to this, we saw Azul make it all the way to the finals with four in his Golisopod-GX/Garbodor. I used the Enhanced Hammers in all of my rounds except against the Volcanion decks, which allowed them to become fodder for Space Beacon. In combination with N and Shadow Stitching, the Enhanced Hammers are very devastating. Even thought I played against a whopping zero Zoroark-GX decks, I still found these to be worth the space.
Brooklet Hill is an absolutely incredible card in the early game! It really is the gift that keeps on giving. I really wanted to maximize the odds of finding this on the first turn because of how much it helps with setup. In addition to this, I played zero Field Blower so the extra stadium helped to deal with Parallel City.
This is the only card I have listed here that did not cross my mind before the tournament. I saw this card in use when my Round 3 opponent, Grant Manley, had it in his list. It was certainly better than Skyla in our series, but I am not convinced of how good it is overall. Sure, it means accessing N and Professor Sycamore earlier and more frequently, but I would almost always prefer Skyla as a supporter in the first couple turns. I could also see myself running out of supporters if I were to replace the Skylas, and potentially even the Lillie, with Random Receivers.
This is a card I thought a lot about in the couple days leading up to the tournament. I kept thinking “these Field Blowers are really not doing much” whenever I drew into them, and kept wishing they were something with more value. I finally made the call and removed both copies in favor of more consistency, choosing to include a fourth Brooklet Hill and a third Enhanced Hammer. Field Blower is obviously very good against Garbodor and Parallel City, but I didn’t expect much Garbodor to be in attendance and Brooklet Hill is an even better answer to Parallel City. I did underestimate how good Field Blower is against Fighting Fury Belt, but I only struggled against it because they were in the Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor I played against. I played against two Volcanion decks that included Fighting Fury Belt, and I did not have any problems whatsoever.
This card might seem like a strange inclusion as the deck chooses to run zero Guzma, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The reason that Guzma isn’t in the deck is because of how hard it is to use. Sure, you could just slap it down whenever and pull out a benched Pokémon, but there are very few situations where you will have it in hand AND the opponent has a juicy target on their bench. Counter Catcher is much easier to use because you can draw it off a Professor Sycamore and immediately play it down, or simply just search for it with Skyla for immediate gratification. Counter Catcher would have been very solid against the Giratina Promos and Garbodor that I played against at the very least.
This card was another one that I thought about a ton, and I didn’t actually take it out until the night before the tournament. I hated starting it as I felt that it made the early game much more difficult to navigate. Having the Espeon-EX on the field clogging up a bench spot makes it more difficult to Water Duplicate and still have a Froakie on your bench. This means Tapu Lele-GX can’t be used if this goal is going to be achieved, and Staryu will have to be neglected for the time being. Starting a Pokémon that isn’t Froakie always hurts because it means that you have two find two Froakie on the first turn instead of just the one.
In terms of actual usefulness, the Espeon-EX just was not cutting it. Sure, it was fantastic in some spots, but it felt like a very situational card. Sometimes it wouldn’t do enough to mount a comeback, and other times it felt like a “win-more” card. In the past, I have seen people mention that this inclusion helps against Giratina Promo, but I have to disagree. If the opponent plays correctly, they should never let you KO more than one Pokémon with Miraculous Shine. In situations where you are only KOing the one Pokémon, it is almost never worth it because it breaks the Shadow Stitching lock and feeds your opponent two prizes.
I am going to discuss these matchups under the assumption that the opponent does not have a Giratina Promo, as the matchups obviously change significantly.
This has always been, at least in my mind, the best reason to play Greninja in a tournament. The Gardevoir-GX matchup is incredibly free, to the point where I even won a game against a Gardevoir-GX that included a Giratina Promo. Shadow Stitching is an incredibly strong attack against Gardevoir, as it limits their damage output and prevents them from drawing a ton of cards. In addition to this, Enhanced Hammer and Tapu Fini-GX will make sure that Gardevoir never gets to out of control, which really limits the opponent’s options.
One thing I noticed my opponents doing this weekend is attacking with Gallade, as it meant an easy KO on a Frogadier and a Greninja. This strategy proved to be very poor overall because I would simply Enhanced Hammer, N them to four, and use Shadow Stitching. This meant that they had to find another Double Colorless Energy and a playable supporter, just to do 130 to one of my Greninja BREAKs.
In most cases, this didn’t even happen, and it allowed me to take over the game by using Giant Water Shuriken on any benched Gardevoir-GXs while continuing to Shadow Stitch. I think that a Gardevoir-GX is much more threatening than the Gallade because of the HP difference, and how much easier it is to attack with a Gardevoir-GX, even if it is not doing a ton of damage like usual. Attacking with Gardevoir-GX also means being able to use Max Potion much more easily, and for more value, which can help to deny Greninja prizes and keep relevant Pokémon alive.
This is a matchup I didn’t test much, which had me quite concerned when I found myself down two to six in prizes against the first one I played against. Turns out this happens pretty frequently, but Greninja always finds a way to make a comeback. Shadow Stitching is just an incredible attack in this matchup, and Enhanced Hammer can be quite good for keeping energy off their board. In three of the four games I played of this matchup, my opponent was at two prizes before I had done any relevant damage.
This involved them taking a KO on my Tapu Fini-GX that I used to handle their first massive Buzzwole-GX. After they got to two prizes, I simply used N and just stitched while they couldn’t do much of anything. Buzzwole-GX’s Knuckle Impact, which is their best option in the matchup, doesn’t even OHKO a fresh Greninja BREAK without a Strong Energy, and even if it does, it can’t attack next turn which is a stipulation that Greninja can easily exploit.
This is one of the matchups that I was most afraid of, outside of Garbodor decks. This is because Golisopod-GX is a very efficient attacker that OHKOs Greninja BREAK and has a massive 210 HP. While that description may be very intimidating and imply that all hope is lost, I assure you that is not the case! I would say that the matchup is unfavored, but not by a ton, maybe 60/40 in favor of Golisopod-GX. You might be wondering how that is possible, and the answer is Shadow Stitching. In the mid to late game, Greninja’s goal should be to use N and then Shadow Stitching with a Choice Band. This makes it so that they Golisopod player must draw a Double Colorless Energy, Guzma, or Acerola in order to have a strong turn.
If they fail to find any of this, it usually results in a First Impression dealing a pretty terrible sixty damage. Once one of these weak turns happens, it is very easy to rid the board of our grass foe, leaving the opponent with a couple Zoroark-GX that can’t even use trade. If the game ever makes it to this point, I find it very difficult to lose. The hard part is making the game get to such a point, as the opponent has ways around almost all of our tricks. We are essentially reliant on the opponent making a mistake or drawing poorly in the mid to late game.
This matchup is the one I wanted to play against the most at Memphis because of how easy it is. The deck has such a low damage output and can’t keep up in the prize trade with Greninja. It gets ahead early as most decks do, but then falls victim to an N + Enhanced Hammer + Shadow Stitching turn which usually blows them out of the game. The deck has basically no draw power because Zoroark’s Trade ability usually does a great job. In addition to this, the deck plays very little energy, and in some builds all of them are special energy. This makes our three copies of Enhanced Hammer incredibly powerful in the matchup, especially considering that they will be two shotting Greninjas most of the time. This is a matchup where I could see myself winning even if the opponent had a Giratina promo in their deck, just because of how strong Enhanced Hammer and Shadow Stitching are against Zoroark.
While this may seem like a sketchy matchup because of Decidueye, it is actually one of Greninja’s best matchups because of how ability reliant they are. When I played Decidueye at London, I actually ran into a top Greninja player and expected a close series, but I ended up getting absolutely slaughtered 2-0. Sometimes a series like that can be contributed to variance, but I tested the matchup a ton after London with Mees, and we came to the conclusion that Greninja was heavily favored.
I believe that is still the case, especially if people start moving towards Igor’s Zoroark heavy build, which focuses much more on Zoroark-GX than it previously did. This will make our N + Shadow Stitching combo even stronger, and Enhanced Hammers will remain to be incredibly valuable. My plan was to attack with Zoroark-GX in the early game and then start taking prizes with Decidueye-GX, but it is almost impossible to take six prizes this way if Greninja actually sets up well. By the time that decidueye is attacking, it will usually have taken damage from one or two Giant Water Shurikens, which makes it very easy to knockout. In addition to this, the two Grass Energy are not the easiest to find, and Enhanced Hammer will make things even more difficult.
Well, I have to be honest: it is a very good thing that this deck was not very popular in Memphis. Our frog friend is certainly not hoping to stare down a board of Grass and Garbodor, especially with a list that has zero Field Blower and no Espeon-EX. While the gameplan is essentially the same as against Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX, the strategy is much harder to actually implement here. The issue is that even if the opponent draws relatively poorly off of a couple Ns, you are never able to take advantage of it because Giant Water Shuriken is shut off forever. This means that it is much harder to actually ever KO a Golisopod-GX, and it means that anything they leave on the bench if guaranteed safe. They also have a much thicker Golisopod-GX line, which makes negating attacks via N even more of a challenge. I would avoid playing Greninja if you expect to play against Azul’s Golisopod-GX/Garbodor deck anytime soon.
If it wasn’t already clear, I am a huge fan of Greninja currently, and I hope I inspired you to at least give it a try! Sure, Giratina Promo and Garbodor give you some trouble, but it is worth it to have such strong matchups against pretty much every deck. Anyways, my next big event will be Dallas Regionals, which is actually a ways away. I have been having a streak of very average performances, so I am hope to finally get back on track and crack the top eight next month. That being said, I hope that all of you achieve whatever goals you may be working towards, and I will see you next time!
… and that will conclude this unlocked Underground article.
(After 90 days we open up past UG content for public viewing to help preserve the history of the game. New articles are reserved for Underground members.)
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Users: Click here to view the registration page if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.