Hola 6P readers! I’m writing to you from future in the Down Under, or in other words, super jet lagged with the 17 hour time difference, and currently at a friend’s home in Sydney, Australia! I’ve been here now for a few days, trying to fight the jet lag off, so that it doesn’t affect my performance at the tournament. It might seem something minor, but every little bit extra helps, right? Being fresh on the day, well rested and at my best when coming up to playing potentially 27 games of Pokémon seems like a good idea to me.
Preparing for Dallas and now Sydney has left me very little time to actually prepare for Ultra Prism and Collinsville, though. This is the cost of attending every single tournament out there, but I genuinely love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Dallas was one of the most difficult tournaments for me so far, as it definitely didn’t start out as well as I had hoped it would. After logging in over 200 games of Expanded in January alone for the tournament, I sat down in Round 1, confident in my list (shown below), and in Games 1 and 3, I simply started lone Exeggcute going second, and got Hypnotoxic Laser + Virbank City on turn 1—and I didn’t even get to play.
Needless to say, this definitely put me on tilt, and caused me to heavily misplay round 2, causing me to tie instead of winning, and thus, at 0-1-1, I had zero room for error. The rest of the day went swimmingly after I realized the tilt I was in and that I had to let go of it, otherwise the day would simply end worse.
I managed to go 6-0-1 for the next 7 rounds, putting me at 6-1-2 for the day and 44th place. Not bad for such a horrible start, but once again falling short of a Day 2 at an Expanded Regional. In hindsight, the list I played was probably not very optimal in the Supporters department, and I realize I need to stray away from VS Seeker at a count of 4, as that seems to be the common perpetrator of the “dead hands” in Expanded. Here’s my list, followed by my matchups:
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 34
1 Pokémon Ranger
Energy – 5
Day 1 of Dallas Regionals:
R1 Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX LWL (tilt begins)
R2 Night March WL (tilt ongoing)
R3 Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX WLW (tilt ends)
R4 Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX LW
R5 Zoroark-GX/4 Exeggcute PLF LWW
R6 Night March WLW
R7 Wailord W
R8 Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX LWW
R9 Gardevoir-GX WW
So not too shabby, but left with a taste of I really could’ve done more. The win against Wailord was definitely welcome, and I was happy with my list overall, but I will definitely be taking that different approach I mentioned going into future Expanded tournaments (which, ironically, are not too far off the future anyways).
Little time to practice the UPR format doesn’t mean I haven’t had any thoughts on it, as it’s a very powerful set. Collinsville is going to be super interesting, as we’re guaranteed to see a lot of the new cards being played. If Crimson Invasion’s (and Shining Legend’s) immediate impact was a surprise at London, I don’t think anyone will be surprised when we see Magnezone, Glaceon-GX, and even the return of Silvally-GX into the fray—thanks to the new Fire Memory paving way for it to deal nicely with the new Metal archetypes and Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX variants.
It’s quite unfortunate that the promo Solgaleo-GX got delayed back all the way until October. I was really looking forward to trying that one out, as I fell in love with the Lurantis-GX/Solgaleo-GX deck concept that popped up back in February of last year at Anaheim. This was going to be that deck completely revamped and even stronger, but alas, it will not see the light of day until early next season at best.
After a few trials runs, I do think the Metal deck is by far the strongest of the archetypes coming out Ultra Prism, whilst Garchomp is the weakest, but we’ll get to that. This is the Metal list I’ve been toying with lately, which I really like. It has been difficult getting used to a non-Zoroark deck as I’ve been heavily testing those for Sydney. However, the Nest Ball concept has grown on to me, specifically from applying it consistently to the “fun” decks I feature on my channel called TCG PokéDECKS, that have led to some nice out of the box deck creations.
The deck has run very nicely for me with the great variety of attackers + Mt. Coronet support + heavy focus on setting up Magnezone. Dealing 220 damage is just such a nice number to hit that even if it’s obvious that Fire will become a thing again if this gets too good, I will happily take it on as with a decent enough set up you can basically trade OHKO back and forth. Yours do require quite a bit more, but with a turn 2 Magnezone, they’re definitely not out of the question whatsoever.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
I have been thinking a lot about Professor’s Letter, as it pairs nicely with Skyla. It also works well in the mid-late game, where whiffing one energy off of a Lillie or Sycamore can actually be the difference between winning or losing. Another interesting point is the lack of Cynthia. I keep thinking it would be great, but in reality, after you’ve set up 1 Magnezone (or hopefully 2), you just want to thin your deck of excess Magnemite, Rare Candy and Magnezone. Many people rue the discard Sycamore offers, as they will say they always lose valuable resources. I’d say that it’s only on rare occasions that the discarded resources matter more than the simple ability to thin your deck of excess cards.
Other options for the deck that I have been contemplating are Cobalion, to have a good non-GX finisher for late game, and actually increasing the Dialga-GX count to 2—simply because the GX attack is that good.
I haven’t given enough time to the Brigette builds of the deck simply because I’m busy with Sydney prep (and enjoying Sydney too), but I’ll get around to trying it out eventually. I doubt we will see the optimal builds for this deck immediately by Collinsville, but it will prove to be a strong archetype for sure.
Finally, Cyrus Prism is also a card being touted as a “must have” in any deck that focuses on Metal or Water type Pokémon. However, I beg to differ. With this deck, you’re trying to setup and find your Pokémon + energy to make sure you are removing your opponent’s threats. Any time/game you were able to pull this off and still have time to play Cyrus is a game you were going to win anyways, therefore making it pointless.
The next most impactful card I’ve found so far is definitely Glaceon-GX. Stopping abilities of Pokémon GX is almost as good as stopping Abilities all together. With Tapu Lele and Zoroark being so prevalent, it makes sense for a successful tournament strategy to simply be shutting of those abilities with Freezing Gaze. We already saw Azul’s quad Enhanced Hammer Golisopod-GX/Garbodor deck do really well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did so again this weekend in Sydney.
The best part about Glaceon is it just shuts off your opponent’s Abilities—not yours. This means the only way to play around it for your opponent is Guzma, and you can also run a Zoroark engine yourself to facilitate including some disruption cards, such as Team Flare Grunt, Plumeria, Delinquent, etc.
I have chosen not to, simply because I like my consistency, but I’m sure there will be a future deck that tries to have all the denial of resources every turn. The only cards I chose to include for disruption were Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer, thinking that in a mirror match, playing Grunt + Hammer in a single turn could potentially be devastating.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 34
Energy – 9
The rest of the list is pretty self explanatory. 4-3 Glaceon-GX, as it’s your main lead and preferred attacker for the deck. 4-3 Zoroark-GX line for consistency and back up attacking. This deck focuses more on Glaceon and thus the 4-3 line rather than 4-4, and it could easily be a 3-3 if another spot was required. Tapu Koko as an extra “out” to retreating turn 1 into Eevee and getting the Freezing Gaze online since turn 1, and 2 Tapu Lele for support.
Supporter-wise, we have the familiar “mess” that Zoroark decks are running now, with Puzzle of Time, N, Sycamore, Acerola, Guzma, and now Cynthia as well. Cynthia is a much better fit in this deck than it is in something like Magnezone, because individual resources are a lot more important. Any leftover evolution lines or Supporters can easily by discarded and thinned with Trade, and hence drawing 6 is a very solid amount if you want to do that rather than refresh or deny your opponent’s hand. You might also simply need more outs to hit that last game winning combination of cards, and Cynthia + a few Trades once the deck has been thinned out means you get to see a lot of cards.
Energy-wise, I’m not sold that 5 is enough, and not running Aqua Patch with a 3 Energy-requiring Pokémon feels like a crime. Having said that, though, there really isn’t too much space to work with. Once again, there’s an argument of consistency vs disruption, and the disruption cards could pave way for extra energy or Aqua Patches, but it might come to a point where there is too much consistency and the deck becomes too one dimensional with very few options. Overall, Glaceon-GX’s attacks are not too great, but they are magnified by its Ability. Otherwise, they’d be mediocre at best.
There are many other cards with potential in this set. I’d argue this set has a potential to influence the metagame akin to how Guardians Rising really switched it up for everyone big time back in May. However, it also has quite a few “hyped” cards that I personally have found underwhelming.
The first is Garchomp. On paper, a self-sustaining engine with Lucario and non-GX attackers that can OHKO anything sounds amazing, but then you have to factor in that it is a Stage 2, making it inherently inconsistent, as well as one huge limitation: you are forced to use Cynthia as your Supporter for the turn in order to achieve the combo. This means that not only will you never disrupt your opponent’s hands to a point where they might miss their outs to retaliate your hit, but worst of all, you won’t be able to Guzma and OHKO the threat you needed to, simply because you’d then deal an abysmal 100 damage, rather than the 200 (or 230 with Choice Band).
This combination of factors has led me to be disappointed in the deck’s performance. Some people online are claiming to have good results, and I’m sure my fellow writers will bring more to the table on this deck, but for me, it’s definitely not an option heading into Collinsville based off of the limited testing I’ve done.
Finally, we’re down to Empoleon, yet another hyped up Stage 2 that has completely failed to impress me. Its stats are good in theory, with a potentially huge attack that can even be powered up with Counter Energy! But you also want Splash Energy to recover your evolution lines. And you also would like to use Aqua Patch to try and keep the energy rolling consistently.
So, see where I’m getting to? Not only is balancing energy a mess with this deck, but you also heavily rely on Rare Candy, Alolan Vulpix/Octillery to set up, and your damage is completely variable and dependent on your opponent over-benching.
If/when playing against a competent opponent, they will surely always prevent you from taking a OHKO, even when factoring Chocie Band—and, *gulp,* even Professor Kukui. So all the hassle to get Empoleon out, figure out the Energy conondrum, to not even be able to dish consistent KOs like Garchomp can?
I’m definitely not sold any of these non-GX Stage 2’s are any better than the best Stage 2 out there: Gardevoir.
Now that I finally got that off my chest, it’s time for me to get back head strong into testing for Sydney. The Oceania International holds a very special place in my heart, as it commemorates the beginning of a new cycle and stage in my life which has led me to become one the very fortunate few people who can say they are a full time Pokémon player. Last year’s 2nd place finish at the tournament actually influenced that decision very heavily, and thus this tournament means more to me than any other from this season so far. I’m here, I’m hungry for success, and I certainly know I’m capable of it.
I hope you guys will wish me the best of luck at the Oceania International, and make sure to be on the lookout on my Instagram page to follow my Australian adventures so far! Thank you once again for reading, and I’ll see you guys again soon!
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