Hello 6P UG! I’m back with another article, my last one before the biggest and most prestigious tournament of the year: the 2018 Pokémon World Championships. As most of you probably know, I travelled like never before this season, in order to accumulate massive amount of Championship Points and earn myself Travel Awards to the Internationals, but most importantly a Day 2 Worlds invite. This means, I’m one of the lucky few who gets to basically scout the competition on Friday/Day 1, and thus finalize deck choice and techs for the follow-up tournament on Saturday.
Having said this, this past week we also got (some) information about the new season and how it’s going to work. I wanted to share how potentially good this system is, if, and only if, it is executed correctly. It is obvious that it will work as intended and probably encourage a lot of players to attend events in North America, but as a LATAM ambassador myself, I only see how disastrous this is about to get. Or, rather, how ineffective it will be in LATAM and other regions, due to the lack of events in certain countries of said regions.
We already had a rough implementation as the new changes were applied retroactively to Q4 of the 2017-2018 season. There was a lot of backlash from the top players, and with good reason, since all of us made decisions based off of historical data, (2016 and 2017 seasons), and TPCI decided to make changes after the season was over. None of us are arguing the new system is bad, and I actually don’t think anyone had any feelings about it being good moving forward, but all of the changes should’ve certainly started applying for the 2018-2019 season.
Will Pokémon listen? Probably not, as it has been pointed time and time again that the ‘top players’ aren’t a big enough representation of the whole player base. But I think we are also the most dedicated and arguably passionate about the game, and thus top players can’t be scapegoats and told by people unaffected by the changes things such as ‘tough luck’ or ‘learn to play by the rules’.
Anyways, that was the major thing we got this past week, but we’re still missing important bits of information such as whether it is still Top 4/Top 16 for Travel Awards and Stipends, how many CP each Region needs to qualify for Worlds, and the prizes for Regionals and Internationals—amongst others. I’ll be finalizing my own plans for the 2018-2019 season after Worlds, since that is what has my full attention at the moment.
We’ve now had many weeks since Celestial Storm prereleases were held and the set being officially out and available on PTCGO. This also means all my coaching and practice has been fully focused on Worlds decks and trying out the cards with the most potential and I’ve come to one conclusion: the new set is lackluster because of one card: Parallel City. Once the new format hits, and Parallel City can no longer be used, I am certain there will be a plethora of new and viable decks that will compete.
Unfortunately though, for this year’s World Championships, the only 2 cards from Celestial Storm that I think will have a true impact on the format will be Rayquaza-GX and Magcargo. Rayquaza-GX comes into the format as a great hard-hitting deck that is dishing out 180-240 damage turn 2 on a semi-consistent basis. Magcargo shows up as a compliment to Zoroark-GX, in order to create a more accurate and precise ‘Control’ deck that stems off of Tord Reklev’s 2nd place deck at NAIC.
We are currently a little under 2 weeks before the event, and in my opinion, the top 4 best decks in the format in no particular order are the aforementioned 2, along with Zoroark/Garbodor and Buzzwole/Lycanroc. Out of those 4, I’m only contemplating 3 of them, and in a very precise order, trying to be as objective as possible.
First off, the top deck that I am NOT considering for Worlds as of today that I am featuring in this article is Zoroark/Magcargo. I went in depth on this deck in my previous article, and this list is what I’m not considering for Worlds:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 39
Energy – 4
It adapts the Magcargo into the list, but only as a 2/1 line. More than that felt unnecessary, as usually 1 Magcargo is enough to carry you through the game. You also Puzzle of Time and Rescue Stretcher to recover it in case it gets discarded or taken down, so the only real issue is prizing it, which only happens 10% of the time anyways. 1/1 is too thin, and 2/2 felt like too much, hence I settled on the 2/1.
The list also features Sylveon-EX, as my testing has shown Rayquaza-GX to be incredibly strong and Zoroark-GX decks to be struggling against it if they’re not running some sort of counter. This is also why I think Golisopod-GX and Lycanroc-GX will be taking a backseat at Worlds, they are already a bit clumped and adding Sylveon-EX adds to that, along with it not being an 100% sure fire way to tilt the matchup in your favor—but it definitely helps.
The rest of the list is pretty similar in terms of its consistency and disruption as its NAIC brethren: it simply got half a Mallow for free every turn to turn it into an even bigger contender.
So why am I not considering this? The mirror match. I know a lot of people will naturally gravitate towards this deck and I genuinely don’t want to play a potential ‘infinite game’ with this deck. I’ve seen Team Rocket’s Handiwork as an inclusion to the list in order to try and win the mirror that way, but I also don’t want to rely on flips to help gain an edge over my opponents.
So this leaves Rayquaza/Garbodor, Zoroark/Garbodor and Buzzwole/Lycanroc as my potential plays for Worlds (as of today). In number 3 for me is Rayquaza/Garbodor, as it is inherently one of, if not the most powerful deck at the moment—but it also is the most affected by randomness and variance.
The most impactful issue with this deck is Stormy Winds as a double edged sword. Rayquaza’s Ability is the reason the deck can compete, but it’s also the reason why the deck strangles itself sometimes. You can’t control (unless you play Mallow, which would be bad) the cards that get discarded from Stormy Winds. And they also are always resources that could’ve had some use throughout the game. As you play down your Rayquazas, you have to hope Arceus has mercy on you and doesn’t discard a Max Elixir, or another Rayquaza-GX, or a recovery card such as Rescue Stretcher or Pal Pad.
Despite this, the deck hits like a truck and is a huge powerhouse, and that is why I am considering it. When it gets going, it can run over pretty much everything. And with Garbodor as a partner, it also has a disruption factor going for it. Here’s where I’ve settled so far for my list:
Pokémon – 11
1 Latias ♢
Trainers – 35
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 14
I came to this list based off of testing and a solid frame from our own Mike Fouchet, who always comes through for Worlds lists especially. The concept of Red Card in Rayquaza is being thrown around, but I personally felt it underwhelming with no control over when you get to play it. There are clear turns where playing it would be incredibly impactful of course, but there’s no way to guarantee that happening. Hence, I dropped those altogether for a tiny extra bit of consistency and the 3rd Wishful Baton which has proved itself ten times over.
It feels like I win most games where my opponents aren’t able to play around Wishful Baton, and lose a lot where they get the timely Field Blower. Hence playing 3 just means I can compensate a little bit for the inevitable Stormy Winds discards, but also it’s more likely that I will find it in the turn where it’s most impactful, by playing 3 instead of 2.
Garbodor is not only a great disruption component to the deck, but it’s the one thing that allows Rayquaza to do anything to Hoopa based decks. Without Garbotoxin, a single powered up Hoopa can simply mean game over for you in an instant.
The last ‘off the norm’ inclusion in the list is Field Blower rather than Parallel City. In a format where Zoroark-GX seems to be king, and it plays both Parallel City and Field Blower. You will never ever beat them at the ‘Parallel war’ in the long run. However, by playing Field Blower, you can actually counter an early one, especially going second when it gets played turn 1, giving you more breathing room. It’s also great to remove opposing Wishful Batons in the mirror, and random Fighting Fury Belts, Choice Bands and Float Stones as well. Field Blower has been incredible for me, and I would love to find room for a third.
Next up in my list is the hottest deck after NAIC: Zoroark/Garbodor. Why is this deck my number 2 pick? Well, for starters, Zoroark and Garbodor (both of them) are arguably three of the strongest cards ever printed, and they actually have some synergy together as has been shown in their results. As for how the metagame seems to have evolved, here’s my current list that I’ve been playing with lately:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 35
Energy – 7
The ‘soft Item lock’ that Trashalanche provides is always great, as a lot of decks rely on Items to get going. Notable changes from the NAIC list is switching to a full on Trashalanche mode, not relying on the Kartana-GX package with Unit Energy and its GX attack. Inclusion of Mallow is a personal choice, as I can’t actually fathom playing a Zoroark deck without it at this point.
Rayquaza-GX becoming a new contender actually makes this deck a potentially better choice, since Trashalanche runs over the deck due to the previously discussed randomness of Stormy Winds, along with the deck’s reliance on Ultra Balls, Mysterious Treasures and Max Elixirs. So Trashalanche allowing you to have a good match against the ‘new shiny card’ that is drawing a lot of people’s attention is actually a good thing.
The one reason that could maybe hold me back from playing this deck is that it did so well at the end of the season that it’s probably one of the most considered decks, and therefore would entail a lot of mirror matches as well. And with a ton of practice being done with and against this deck, the better people will be able to play around and adapt to Trashalanche.
The one weird inclusion in this list might seem the Team Flare Grunt, however there’s a very specific situation for it. When a Lycanroc-GX uses Dangerous Rogue with 2 basic Fighting Energy, it’s always going to trade extremely well against this deck. However, if you remove that Basic Energy, the Lycanroc is actually useless next turn since Buzzwole decks do not run Double Colorless Energy, and therefore the Lycanroc would not be able to follow up with a Claw Slash.
And thus we come to my number one pick for Worlds as of today: Buzzwole/Lycanroc. The deck has been bittersweet to me, showing me huge success at Memphis when I Top 4’d the largest Regional to that date with it, and then failing miserably to get any other good placement. I try to be objective though, and results show that in a Zoroark heavy meta—as is expected—this is the deck to trample them. This was my number 3 pick for NAIC, simply based on my ‘emotions’ towards the deck and how it had ‘failed me’ in the past.
I have to get rid of that mindset though, because a deck doesn’t ‘fail you’—it’s all about variance and optimal play and Buzzwole is still inherently powerful. My list is as standard as it gets, and it’s actually almost identical to the top placing list from NAIC by Ahmed Ali, and it includes two Field Blower!
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
1 Beast ♢
Non-GX Buzzwole is insanely good, and so is Buzzwole-GX, so I decided on a 3/2 split to be able to play the ‘force Sledgehammer’ game whilst also having the better Beast Ring target when it happens. Leading with a fully powered up Buzzwole-GX is also extremely good, so having 2 copies of the card makes a lot of sense.
I’ve included 2/2 lines of both Lycanroc-GX and Octillery in order to maintain consistency and reliability on them, but especially Lycanroc since it’s integral to the deck overpowering your opponents. Many people cut to 1/1 of either or both, and it makes sense to an extent, but I just never felt comfortable with it. The split of Rockruff is because Corner is a great attack to have, especially in games where you might be falling a bit behind, as it essentially protects your Rockruff for a turn or two. Even if they have Guzma, your Rockruff goes back safely to the bench to be ready for next turn.
And finally, 2 Field Blower. Historically Field Blower had not showed up in this archetype until NAIC, and now I’m a firm believer in them, especially since Ryaquaza-GX is reliant on Wishful Baton to keep up the pace vs Buzzwole. Just as in my Rayquaza/Garbodor list, the utility of Field Blower is simply unmatched, and a well timed one can win you games. I don’t know how many people playing at Worlds read this or not, but they could be making plays based on the assumption that you run zero and you then surprise them with 2.
And that will wrap up my article for today! I hope you guys wish me good luck at Worlds, where I will once again be trying my absolute best to finally win that title. Any comments or questions always feel free to contact me on any of my social media! Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: Since I wrote my article over the weekend, the ARG results came out and one deck in particular caught my eye: Buzzwole/Garbodor with all non-GX attackers. Since then, I’ve been trying out the deck and modifying it a little bit, and it has now become a consideration for my decks to play at Worlds for this upcoming weekend.
Here’s the list that I’ve been using and wound up taking to a League Cup the weekend before Worlds, netting me a solid Top 4:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 36
Energy – 9
1 Beast ♢
The decks overall strategy is to abuse the fact that it plays ZERO Pokémon-GX, and thus it is almost impossible to play around Sledgehammer turn, which is huge to this deck’s success. It also offers arguably the 2 best offensive types in the game at the moment for the current meta: Fighting for Zoroark decks and Psychic for Buzzwole decks, along with having Trashalanche to keep Rayquaza in check.
Its biggest enemy is Lycanroc, and a well played BuzzRoc deck is difficult to take down. However, forcing your opponent to go through 6 prizes is a feat all on its own, especially when you’re using 2 of the best non-GX attackers in the game.
The addition of Shrine of Punishment to the meta means it is easier for the non-GXs to keep up with the higher HP of stuff, and even 1 damage counter can make a big difference overall, seeing how a Strong + Diancie + Choice Band + Shrine of Punishment is a clean OHKO on a Zoroark-Gx with Buzzwole dealing 200 damage and Zoroark getting KOed in between turns.
The threat of Trashlanche and Garbotoxin is very annoying for opponent’s to play against, as its a soft Item lock + potential Ability lock. If they play Field Blower to counter the Garbotoxin, they’re powering up Trashalanche as well.
The deck is incredibly consistent in theory with its 11 draw Supporters and 2 Oranguru. However, in practice that is not always the case since getting a lot of clumped up Supporters or unusable cards to then Instruct with Oranguru is a common situation and one of the weaknesses of the deck.
It popped up in more League Cups after ARG, and I expect the deck in some form to make a showing at Worlds on Day 1. I’ll definitely be working on it since its the deck that I have the least experience in going into Worlds and who knows? Maybe the meta will be right for it on Day 1 or 2.
… 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.