Hello everyone! Travis Nunlist here with Day 4 of our SixPrizes Article Marathon. I’m very hyped to be bringing you an in-depth analysis in preparation of the North American International Championship. This tournament is going to be especially important for me because it will be my first IC ever due to missing last year and never taking the opportunity to travel abroad for an event. I’ve always been stunned by how well these International events are ran, so I could not be more excited to finally be a competitor.
This format has been quite interesting to play in because of the ‘triangle’ that so many have been talking about. For those who are not yet caught up, this is referring to the big 3 decks; Buzzwole, Malamar, and Zoroark variants that all seem to be caught in a RPS style format. So far all efforts to experiment outside of this triangle have been average at best, and even the most hopeful of decks have only been able to beat 2 out of 3.
I’m very convinced that there is a deck out there that can break the triangle, but finding it has proven to be quite difficult. Historically anytime we see formats boil down to something this narrow it makes space for something previously considered niche or not viable to break through in unsuspecting ways. This seemingly impenetrable triangle has been quite frustrating to navigate if you’re looking for something more interesting to play, so I thought I would share some of the decks I’ve been trying out to ideally help generate something creative and viable.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 31
3 Choice Bamd
Energy – 10
The above list is the exact 60 I am currently playing in the Team Win & In Trial Tournament, which is the biggest PTCGO tournament ever ran as a 128 person event and will certainly only get more popular as a tournament series. Golisopod/Garbodor has been a frequent competitor since its debut at Worlds 2017, and I believe the deck may be in a great spot to resurface. The most appealing part of this deck is that it has both weaknesses of the Buzzwole deck covered, which is not seen very often in any other existing decks. Golisopod’s First Impression may come up just a bit short of a OHKO on 130 HP Pokémon, but luckily we have Tapu Koko Promo to help with a little spread damage to make getting knockouts easier. The deck also has Garbodor GRI, which can easily make short work of Psychic weak single prize attackers like Buzzwole FLI and Hoopa STS, in addition to being a phenomenal late game sweeper.
Ultimately this deck seems like it has everything it needs to be a major competitor once again. Covering both Weaknesses of the best deck in the format is certainly a boost to its viability, and I would not be even a little bit surprised to see this deck breakout with a solid performance at NAIC. The biggest problem with decks focused on using Garbodor BKP is that their lock style makes ensuring consistency that much more difficult. However, if you’re able to work past some of the consistency issues and play yourself out of weird situations, then this just might be the deck for you.
Drampa-GX, Tapu Fini-GX, Buzzwole-GX – These big basic Pokémon have all found success in Golisopod/Garbodor variants at one point or another. I have not included any of them in the current list because the meta is too focused on single prize attackers to get great value out of them, but I do think that they each have their niche and that Drampa-GX currently has the most potential use.
2nd Field Blower – Including this was be the first change I’ve been trying out in the deck since locking in the above list for the online tournament. The second Field Blower is nice to help ensure you can draw it at opportune times because this can be an issue when you only play one with no way to search it. The card also doubles as a fuel provider for Trashalanche which is always appreciated.
Parallel City – I really think this deck would benefit greatly from some kind of Stadium, but unfortunately for us the best Stadium in the game also happens to nerf our own damage a bit which could cause missed knockouts if not properly accounted for. Beyond Parallel City, I’m actually not even sure what stadium would be terribly useful for a deck like this, but if something else useful fits then it is certainly worth exploring as well.
-Trashalanche & Rainbows + Basic Grass Energy and Consistency – This take on the deck is something we saw Azul Garcia Griego pilot to a second place finish at the Memphis Regional Championship. While it has flown under the radar ever since, it is important not to underestimate the consistency and simplicity of cutting the Trashalanche and the accompanying cards for more consistency cards and basic energy.
vs Buzzwole, Slightly Favored to Even – Despite covering both of Buzzwole’s weaknesses in this deck very well, this match up can still be tricky because of how efficient Buzzwole FLI is as an attacker. Taking 6 prizes is time consuming and can be difficult to navigate, but you win more often than not.
vs Malamar, Slightly Favored to Even – This matchup basically comes down to two things: Will they hit their field blowers at the right time and how quickly can they get the ball rolling?
vs Zoroark, Unfavored to Even – Zoroark tends to play just as many, if not more, Field Blower than Malamar variants and is definitely a lower maintenance deck. Their ability to re-use Field Blower through Puzzle of Time makes the matchup that much better for them, and your best hope here is to try and win the Acerola war despite being a much less consistent deck overall.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 32
3 Choice Bamd
Energy – 10
This variant is a little more off the rails, but has been shown potential in the first rounds of testing. The Lurantis Promo allows Golisopod-GX to reach 140 with First Impression, which is huge for helping it take down Buzzwole FLI in one hit instead of two. It also allows it to reach 170 to take out a Tapu Lele-GX with First Impression if there is a Choice Band attached. The absolute dream is setting up both Lurantis Promo so Golisopod can reach 190 with First Impression so it can start to one shot Buzzwole-GX and Ultra Necrozma-GX. This deck doesn’t have quite the same grindy lock potential as the Garbodor variant, but I do think it is a bit less prone to dead drawing in the mid or late game due to having more Tapu Lele-GX, the Oranguru SUM, and no Garbodor BKP.
Decks as simple as this always seem to perform better than expected at large events in part due to their simplicity. If a deck doesn’t have a super elaborate strategy then executing that strategy should be much easier than most other decks, and being a more consistent deck overall will always net you some free wins here and there due to avoiding dead draws.
Lurantis-GX, Shaymin SLG, Turtonator-GX – All 3 of these Pokémon fulfill a niche as alternate attackers but ultimately have very different uses. Lurantis-GX is good if you have issues keeping energy on and the second attack is very good vs Buzzwole FLI if one of the Lurantis Promo is in play as well. Shaymin gives the deck an easy and consistent single prize attacker to use that can also provide a little bit of a consistency boost with Flippity Flap. Turtonator-GX is a very bulky wall that is very good at setting up future KOs.
Octillery > Oranguru – I often have this debate with myself in deck building on whether or not to play Octillery or Oranguru. While Octillery is clearly better draw, the issue for me as always been about how difficult Octillery can be to get into play and how much of a target it becomes once established. A plus for Octillery is that the popularity of fighting decks and Brooklet Hill make it so set up in those matchups is a breeze, but against anything else needing to search out the Remoraid and the Octillery which has always felt worse than simply putting Oranguru into play.
3rd Field Blower, Parallel City – This deck desperately wants a better way to handle opposing Parallel City, but there just isn’t a great answer outside of playing your own, playing more field blowers, or playing some ridiculous stadium to bump opposing Parallel. Both sides can be quite the pain to deal with, and playing a 3rd Field Blower is probably the best option to deal with the threat should it become a consistent issue.
vs Buzzwole, Slightly Favored to Even -This matchup is similar to that of Golisopod Garbodor’s matchup except without Psychic attackers and more consistency, which means there is less that could go wrong. You only need one of the Lurantis Promo setup before you can get the ball rolling anyway which is nice.
vs Malamar, Unfavored to Even – Similar to the Pod/Garb matchup, except now you have actually no way to slow them down. Your best bet is to focus down the Inkay/Malamars for the first couple turns of the game, but then switch off to targeting down the attackers when it becomes beneficial.
vs Zoroark, Unfavored to Even – This matchup comes down to a war of attrition and unfortunately being the less consistent deck is not favorable for achieving that goal. There are ways to capitalize this and I’m sure it’ll help to an extent but pulling off the consistent win will be the tough part.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 36
Energy – 10
1 Beast ♢
This is a rather ridiculous deck I’ve been testing out lately with more success than I initially expected. The idea is to lead with Naganadel doing a vanilla 80-120 per turn starting early while tanking through attempts to two-shot with Max Potion. The Naganadel tank strategy should be enough to carry you through your matchup with Baby Buzzwole. Fortunately for us, Zoro/Roc is not currently playing basic Fighting energy, so the Xurkitree-GX should be able to wall them out of the game for you. Xurkitree-GX has been a card that has pleasantly surprised me in all of the Zoroark matchups. They all play 4 DCE, so attacking with a Xurkitree is a good way to make them scramble to get Basic energy onto something. The mill of Xurkitree-GX’s attack can also be quite devastating and puts them in a position where they feel they need to answer the attacker ASAP.
The single prize Xurkitree and Pheromosa are okay. They’re mostly used for fueling Beast Raid while being cool single Prize options, but for now they’ve earned their keep and get to stick around to cause a ruckus. Aether Paradise Conservation Area is such a cool Stadium that also helps your crew take some hits and then dish em back out.
Pheromosa-GX – This would require some reworking of the energy to fit, but Pheromosa-GX has a lot of potential as an aggressive opener for a deck like this. The ability to attack going first is not to be taken lightly and the second attack is fine + mildly annoying. My favorite part of this card is the GX attack as is can be quite the powerful nuke in the right moment.
Assault Vest – This is another card we can chuck into the group of ‘cards that are really good against buzzwole because they don’t play field blower’. If we can get this and Aether Paradise to stick in play we could be reducing damage done to our Pokémon by up to 70 PER ATTACK. While these defensive cards have historically seemed much better than they end up being.
Parallel City, Ultra Space – Unlike our previous two decks this concept actually has multiple powerful stadiums it can utilize. Aether Paradise is great for making your Ultra Beasts tanky, Parallel City is great for disruption, and Ultra Space is great for consistency.
1 Metal Energy – This would be great for utilizing Kartana’s GX attack or even the regular attack if I knew the meta could potentially contain Pokémon that are weak to metal. Currently it’s a bit too fringe to justify, but knowing the option is available is always great.
vs Buzzwole, Slightly Favored to Even – This matchup will depend on how their Beast Ring turns go and how many Naganadel-GX you are able to setup. If you can stream everything just fine you should be able to trade through the Beast Ring turns well enough with the most threatening thing being Lycanroc-GX. Try to KO Rockruffs where you can and use the single prize 1 Pheromosa FLI to get some solid early hits in on it.
vs Malamar, Unfavored to Even – This matchup is certainly the worst of the big 3 for multiple reasons. The first is that your main attacker is psychic weak while the majority of their deck is psychic type, the second is that Xurkitree will not be walling anything, and the third is that Max Potion will get you little to no value because both variants are capable of pulling off the OHKO.
vs Zoroark, Slightly Favored to Even – This matchup comes down to the exact variant and their specific energy split, but I would say that most Zoroark variants in the current meta are going to be favored because they do not play any easy way to deal with multiple Xurkitree-GX.
You guys have no idea how excited I am to be participating in my very first International Championship. I’ve watched plenty of these events take place via Twitch and am always jealous I don’t get to be on the competitor’s side of things. The sheer size of the event, the amount of incredible players in one space, and the raw feel of an event with 1,500+ players is something I cannot wait to experience. Y’all better believe I’m going to be searching for ways to break the format more than usual in order to make my first IC count.
As always, please feel free to come up and say hello if you see me at any event! I always really appreciate chatting with readers and making new friends! Good luck to everyone attending the NAIC, I hope all of you win every single game you play all weekend unless it’s against me.
Before I signout I just wanted to quickly plug a new project I’ve been working on: Team Win and In. It is a group of Twitch streamers who are committed to growing the Pokémon TCG community, with one method being the online PTCGO tournament circuit series I mentioned earlier! Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, or Discord!
Until next time!
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