The Philadelphia Lookback

Considering Philly’s Top Performers and Looking Ahead to Memphis

Hello 6P! Philly Regionals just took place this past weekend and there’s quite a bit to talk about! Let’s jump right into it, shall we? I’m going to lead with my opinion on the change to 19 points and the overall feeling of that from what I gathered from people, and then we’ll move on to analyzing the meta and looking a bit ahead unto Memphis Regionals in about 3 weeks time.

Philly Feelings

As the biggest event of the season yet, and first premier tournament in North America, we had the first scenario where there were more players at 19 points than a Top 32 and thus a total of 78 players came back to play in Day 2. I myself couldn’t break through, as I lost my win and in round in a demoralizing fashion by flipping double Tails on Timer Ball. I’ve since sworn not to play the card ever again, but more on that later.

So, there was no increase in prizes to accommodate the bigger Day 2’s and thus, more than half of the players who played 6 extra rounds walked away with no money, and 14 of those without half a booster box. I know of some people who were ecstatic at having made their first Day 2, and others who were disappointed at the fact that an extra 6 rounds net them zero gains (or perhaps negative since they missed out on the chance to play the Cup on Sunday?).

Some argue that going in at 19 points, you basically have close to zero chance at making Top 8, whereas others argue that at least you have a chance unlike everyone below you. Having won a Regionals after going into Day 2 at 19 points, and gotten second at an International from 32nd seed, I’m of the point of view that anything is possible, and you never know what lady luck has in store for you the next day.

Overall I think it’s a positive change, though I can see how some players will be disappointed when they walk away with nothing to show for after 5-6 more rounds of Pokémon.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the results. So what happened at Philadelphia? Basically, all the decks we knew about showed up, the matrix decided Metagross-GX was due for a good run, and non-GX attackers showed up in force.

Caleb Gedemer took first place after what seemed like a huge run of ‘almosts’ and so huge congratulations to him on his big win. Having played against Caleb myself, it is no surprise to me that he took that final match convincingly.

We’ve had Garbodor win so many events lately that it’s hard to keep track, and it seems like the loss of Strong Energy didn’t affect Buzzwole at all. Here’s Caleb’s winning list, where I’d like to point out some very key things that I feel made a big difference in his run to the Championship:

Pokémon – 17

4 Buzzwole FLI

3 Trubbish GRI

2 Garbodor GRI

2 Slugma CES

2 Magcargo CES

1 Sneasel UPR

1 Weavile UPR

1 Diance p

1 Oranguru SUM

Trainers – 34

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

2 Cynthia

2 Professor Kukui

1 Judge


4 Nest Ball

4 Ultra Ball

3 Acro Bike

2 Rescue Stretcher

1 Field Blower

1 Switch

3 Choice Band


3 Shrine of Punishments

Energy – 9

4 Rainbow

2 F

1 Beast p

1 Unit FDY

1 Counter

So what makes Caleb’s list special?

1/1 Weavile UPR – The Weavile adds a whole other dimension to the deck, and the 1/1 line isn’t a big commitment to where you rely on it, but it poses just enough of a threat to where your opponent is forced to deal with it.

2/2 Magcargo CES – Before rotation we had Octillery, post rotation we have Magcargo and Oranguru, in which the pair is arguably better? Magcargo in combination with 4 Lillie, 2 Professor Kukui and 3 Acro Bike make it so whiffing is rarely a thing for this deck.

3 Shrine of Punishment – I feel like I mentioned this a few times on my streams, where Shrine decks are great due to the 6 Prizes being forced, and the one or 2 damage counters that Shrines place, but the expectation is never for a Shrine to stick for more than 1 or 2 turns and to KO a GX on the bench on its own. 3 feels like a good compromise between running them, but not overcommitting to them.

1 Field Blower – With Magcargo to find it at the right time, this was a great inclusion to make sure that the Weakness Policy that Zoroark decks teched into the list were not an issue for the deck. It also acts as a potential +20 or +40 for Garbodor, and I’m sure most, if not all Zoroark-GX players, assumed this card wasn’t a part of the deck whatsoever and therefore that they would be safe with the Weakness Policy attached.

1 Counter Energy – This was the best inclusion IMO, as if you’re leading in a game, it’s kind of a dead energy, but having it as an option for Swing Around or even Psychic can be a big deal as it gives the deck a big damage boost and some catch up potential if you’re falling behind in the early game. It also gives the benefit of a ‘5th Rainbow’, especially in the mirror, where finding the energy for Garbodor to KO is huge.

Those to me are the highlights that gave this deck a boost versus the more standardized versions of the Shrine of Punishment decks that we saw take over Brazil 2 weekends ago.

The second place Psychic Malamar list by Rukan is probably the opposite of the first place deck which had 1-ofs and specific techs for certain situations. Here’s the list and I’ll give another run down on what makes it so good:

Pokémon – 18

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

2 Deoxys CES

2 Marshadow-GX

2 Necrozma-GX

1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX

1 Marshadow SLG

1 Mimikyu GRI

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainers – 32

4 Cynthia

4 Guzma

4 Lillie


4 Acro Bike

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Ultra Ball

2 Friend Ball

2 Rescue Stretcher

4 Escape Board

Energy – 10

10 P

This list didn’t play single copies of any non-searchable card, and played a super straightforward draw engine which focuses on getting your game plan moving forward, regardless of what your opponent is trying to do. The only way to disrupt your opponent is through Marshadow’s Let Loose Ability. Outside of that, not even a Stadium or Field Blower impacts your opponent’s side of the field whatsoever.

The deck focuses on setting up by playing 4-of some of the best draw/set up cards available, namely: Lillie, Cynthia, Ultra Ball, Mysterious Treasure and Acro Bike. 4/4 Malamar ensures no prizing issues and maximum odds of setting them up, which is how the deck wins games.

Very nice array and mix of non-GX with GX attackers to balance power and weakness to Shrine decks, and finally the inclusion of 4 Escape Board. While most of us were lamenting the loss of Float Stone, Rukan included 4 Escape Boards into his list, effectively giving free retreat to a lot of his Pokémon such as Deoxys, Tapu Lele-GX, Mimikyu, Inkay or Marshadow-GX.

The main benefits of playing Escape Board over Altar of the Moone are that not only do you get to play out of weird Special Conditions turns, but in a heavy Stadium war format between Shrine of Punishment, Mt. Coronet and Devoured Field, Field Blower is not making a big appearance in decks. Therefore, the Escape Boards will remain untouched for the majority of the games and the free retreat option is always there as a pivot to power up your attackers.

In a field of Zoroark-GX’s, I am genuinely surprised that Malamar made it all the way to the finals. However, when you take a closer look at the consistency and synergy within the deck, I can see how a good run for the deck could get it so close to taking the whole thing.

The third place deck is our very own Xander Pero’s creation, which seems like Banette-GX is his new pet card as Garbodor was the previous season. I’m sure he’ll go into his lit and thoughts detailing the deck in an article of his own, so I’ll move on to probably the least expected deck of the Top 8: Metagross-GX/Solgaleo-GX.

First let me say how impressed I was to see that deck up there, but honestly it makes sense in a format where N is gone and Judge/Marshadow are not effects that just any deck can include in multiples.

To better address what makes this deck so potentially good, here’s a close look at the list:

Pokémon – 19

4 Beldum GRI

2 Metang GRI

4 Metagross-GX

1 Metagross CES

2 Cosmog SUM

2 Solgaleo-GX

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Alolan Vulpix GRI

1 Dhelmise GRI

Trainers – 33

4 Cynthia

3 Guzma

2 Lillie

2 Steven’s Resolve

1 Hala

1 Judge


4 Max Potion

4 Nest Ball

4 Rare Candy

4 Ultra Ball

2 Rescue Stretcher

2 Choice Band

Energy – 8

7 M

1 P

On paper, this deck has it all: Super high HP ceiling, healing with Max Potion, unlimited Switching with Solgaleo-GX, Energy recovery with Geotech System, 1HKO potential with Dhelmise and Choice Band or Sunsteel Strike, and enough Supporters to get it there.

In reality though, this deck is a big hit or miss between all the cards that it needs to set up, but once it does it is nearly unstoppable. In some ways it’s similar to Malamar, but the risk vs reward in this deck is much much higher.

After having tested a bunch of the new format, I’m come to realise how good Steven’s Resolve is for Stage 2 decks. Either Gardevoir, Magnezone, Vikavolt or Metagross, they all really benefit from that turn 1 search as long as they have 1 or 2 of the main Basics out—which is where the maximum Nest Ball counts come in.

In my experience, the Steven’s Resolve on turn 1 usually go unchecked as it’s hard committing to a turn 1 or 2 Judge when your field is mediocre at best. But the best part about this deck is you basically get to do it more than once, thanks to Metagross’s Algorithm-GX attack. Any time you pull off both Steven’s turn 1 and Algorithm-GX turn 2, there is absolutely no way you don’t win that match (unless you assess the situation wrongly and pick the wrong cards). These cards remind me of when Sylveon-GX/Gardevoir-GX was the dominant force in the meta, and the reason why I liked the deck so much was that I got to pick the cards I needed for any given turn, rather than ‘hope’ to draw them. This is a huge difference because any time you get to keep the cards you chose, you will be 100% ready for whatever your opponent tried to do during their turn, assuming you chose them correctly.

The debate between Solgaleo-GX vs Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX is very interesting, in that one is a basic vs an additional Stage 2, but the 4 energy requirement for Dusk Mane basically forces you to have that 3rd Stage 2 out anyway. With Solgaleo, you get the benefit of the Ability and extra HP. All you need is an energy from hand to keep up the attacks and you’re good to go.

Non-GX Metagross and Hala feel like unnecessary cards in this, while Choice Band at 2 feels like a major weak point to the deck as well. I would personally drop these 2 cards for an extra Steven’s Resolve and an extra Choice Band to make the deck a bit more well rounded.

pokegym.netI loved seeing such a diverse Top 8, and I want to briefly touch on my own experience with Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX. I started off very nicely at 4-1-0, but then ran into a Malamar Shrine deck that punished my lack of 3rd Stadium, and finally succumbed to the mirror in my win and in Round 9 to a double Tails Timer Ball flip. My opponent, Joe Ruettiger, was using Great Balls over Timer Ball, and I definitely think that is the right call moving forward in Zoroark decks.

Regardless of my sour experience with Timer Ball, Zoroark decks usually just want to establish early Zoroark’s and everything else flows from there. By running 4-of each Zorua and Zoroark, the chances of getting either of them with Great Ball are very decent, and finding Tapu Lele or pieces of your other attackers are also very useful benefits. By reaching to 7 cards into the deck, Great Ball will almost always get you a Pokémon when ⅓ of your deck is comprised of them. As long as Great Balls are finding you early Zoruas or Zoroark’s that more than good enough to replace the timer Balls in my eyes. A 25% chance of completely whiffing is big enough to where I don’t want to risk it ever again, and I hope you guys will hold me accountable to not playing that horrible card ever again.

Next up for me is Memphis, which now includes Dragon Majesty (although IMO the set is one of the most underwhelming ever). Philadelphia Regionals huge variety of decks feels like Expanded in early 2017: pick a deck you like, be comfortable with it and just run it. Shrine decks are still incredibly strong, but they didn’t have the overwhelming dominance that they did in Brazil. Zoroark is and will always be a force to be reckoned with, and Stage 2 decks are more viable now than at any point in the last year or so.

As for me? I think I’ll be sticking with Zoroark for a little bit longer, as I think the Trade Ability is probably the most broken thing since sliced bread and it gets me more cards, which means more options to decide from and therefore, potentially better decisions to be made.

I’ll see you guys again in a couple of weeks, where I will hopefully have a clearer picture of what Zoroark partner I’m leaning toward for Memphis! Thanks for reading!

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