Hello everyone! I am sad to report that I was unable to continue my winning streak in Dallas, tying my win-and-in after a solid 50 minutes vs. ZoroGarb. I knew I would lose eventually, and I am very proud of what I accomplished, so I am certainly not crushed by this by any means. I look forward to the Oceania International Championships and the new set, Team Up! Two pretty exciting events on the horizon, but I am glad to have a break before all of this action hits me. I have been playing an unbelievable amount of Pokémon recently, and it is super nice to have this break.
That being said, I will definitely end up fully prepared for the International Championships in Melbourne! Additionally, I have been monitoring Team Up, and I am excited to brew with the new cards. I still have some League Cups with the current Standard format, SUM–LOT, but my mind is all over Team Up at this point. This article offers a look at my favorite cards to come out of the new set, but, before that, I will draw your attention to the menace of the Expanded format: Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX.
The Past: Dallas Regionals
This is the Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX list that my entire group ended up playing for the event! Caleb ended up with a 2nd-place finish, and the group had great success overall, so I would say it was a very successful tournament!
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 35
Energy – 6
1 Oranguru UPR: This is a card that was mentioned when removing stuff, but ended up being kept around, and I am super glad that is the case! Despite not playing against any mill decks or decks that featured Garbodor GRI, this Oranguru pulled its weight. It was crucial in my victory against Mega Gardevoir, and it made some big plays in other matches. Even though you do have Lusamine to go infinite in multiple areas, a lack of Energy and Trainer options is something only Oranguru can solve.
1 Articuno-GX: This is another card that was mentioned when removing things for the new inclusions, but something I really wanted to keep around. The inclusion of basic Energies felt like a must, so I didn’t want to miss out on the free opportunity the inclusion of said Energy provides. Additionally, Articuno-GX is important in a few, albeit somewhat unpopular, matchups. Primal Groudon and Buzzwole are two matchups that come to mind, and both decks actually saw an increase in popularity this weekend!
1 Hugh: This has to be the highlight of the new list, and for good reason! Hugh has seen minimal play in the past, so it is awesome to be able to play with such an underrated card. To my surprise, though, my friends and I were not the only ones playing this card! I actually played against a few opponents that ran this tech, thankfully they never caught me with it at the right time, but I was super surprised to see it nonetheless.
3 Counter Catcher: This is a super heavy increase from the previous lists, and that is due to the release of Magikarp & Wailord-GX! Without the heavy count of Counter Catcher to trap Blastoise Active, the matchup is actually pretty tough, because you lack a real set of options when it comes to slowing down a 300-HP whale. The Counter Catchers, combined with a Seismitoad-EX sporting a Fighting Fury Belt, make the matchup a very easy one. It is one I hoped to play against all tournament, and one I expected to be incredibly popular, but I did not see a single one!
Cards We Didn’t Play
Between any two major tournaments, I try a ton of different lists out for any given deck, so I am sure that a ton of different counts/lists I tried never saw the light of day. These two techs, however, are two of my more interesting projects. Noibat is especially funny because of how close I was to playing it! Noibat actually survived the axe until just the night before the tournament, granted I was not set on ZoroToad until the night before. Time to talk about these two failed experiments, and what went wrong.
Noibat FLI: I had a ton of faith in this card, and while I definitely won a game here and then with a devastating Destructive Sound, it just was not worth the spot at the end of the day. The card was too situational, in the sense that it was only especially strong against ZoroPod, and ZoroGarb lists that included Pokémon Ranger. However, I am glad the Noibat received some love and attention, because it led to Daniel Altavilla thinking that Hugh would be a solid inclusion, which ended up being a strong tech.
Xurkitree-GX: I personally never played a game with Xurkitree-GX, but on the same day I tossed Noibat out as an idea to the group, I also presented Xurkitree-GX. I remember through cards in an attempt to find a great counter to Pokémon Ranger, which is something I knew ZoroToad struggled with otherwise. I expected Pokémon Ranger to be pretty popular because of how dominant Seismitoad has been lately, but I don’t think a single one of my opponents had it! It was odd to say the least, but was a nice surprise. My testing partners tried Xurkitree out a little bit, and Noibat was simply better, so that is what we spent the rest of our time on.
The legitimacy of either inclusion was questioned on many occasions, and eventually Hugh reigned above both of these options.
Other Potential Inclusions
2nd Enhanced Hammer: While this card is dead against some decks, I think that the payout is much greater than the risk when it comes to this tech. I wished I had a second one at quite a few points during my tournament run, and I think this is a very likely inclusion in future lists. This card allows you to remove their Energy while also using a utility Supporter, one of your strongest options, such as Lusamine or Acerola.
2nd Float Stone/1 Switch: This is something I talked about a lot in testing, but never actually tried due to the tightness of the list. I want to give this a try and see how it goes—I will report back, but until then feel free to try it in your own testing! It seems awesome for getting that early Quaking Punch and makes Guzma easier to use. Switch has a special use of its own: It allows you to beat Shock Lock! You could use Resource Management every now and then, in between Riotous Beatings, in a manner where you can never deck out and eventually take 6 Prizes.
The Future: Team Up
Standard & Team Up
The Standard meta is not terrible, and I think Team Up won’t hurt it in that regard, so I am hopeful to have a diverse meta at upcoming tournaments. However, the Standard format has some underlying problems that have made it somewhat unenjoyable, and not as skillful as formats in recent history.
The lack of comeback potential in a majority of situations is not ideal to say the least, as it often feels like the winner is simply the player with the better start. This problem stems from a lack of disruption, and is amplified by the speed of certain decks in the meta. While Team Up does not have a comeback card glaring me in the eye, it might offer a more obscure solution to the format: a slower meta.
I actually think this is a better solution to the problems at hand, but a much harder solution to implement. It would be very easy for Pokémon to reprint N or something similar, but that feels a lot like putting tape on a broken pipe. It fixes the issue for now, but the game will face a similar problem eventually. Additionally, simply printing a comeback card similar to something players have already seen gets repetitive, and allows for somewhat of a stale feeling. I am hopeful that Team Up is the start to slowing things down, and only time will tell if that is TPCi’s plan.
Team Up—Top 10
These are my favorite ten cards out of Team Up playability-wise; some of them I think might have an immediate impact, while others will have to wait for their time to shine. These cards are in no particular order.
1. Shaymin p
Shaymin p — 80 HP — G
GG Flower Storm: 30×
This attack does 30 damage times the amount of basic Energy attached to all of your Pokémon.
While I don’t have a particular deck in mind to simply slap this thing into, it seems like too good of an attacker to ignore. Specifically, it seems like a great late-game closer. This card can be used my decks that play Grass Energy or Counter Energy, and I think we will see it included in a majority of decks that can use it.
Ninetales — 100 HP — R
Stage 1 — Evolves from Vulpix
Ability: Nine Temptations
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard 2 Fire Energy cards from your hand. If you do, switch 1-of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon with their Active Pokémon.
RCC Flame Tail: 90
This seems like a great utility Pokémon in decks that can use it, acting as a gust effect for Fire decks. This Ninetales has an Ability that essentially replaces the need for Guzma in a majority of situations, which means you can spend your Supporter for the turn on card draw. This should allow you to make bigger plays, and close games faster, which sounds great to any deck that could take advantage of this. I will be trying this in Blacephalon-GX, which is the best Fire deck by far at the moment.
3. Tapu Koko p
Tapu Koko p — 130 HP — L
Ability: Ancestor’s Dance
Once during your turn (before your attack), if this Pokémon is on your Bench, you may use this Ability. Choose 2-of your Benched Pokémon and attach a Lightning Energy from your discard pile to each of them. Then, put this Pokémon into the Lost Zone (discard all cards attached to this Pokémon).
LLC Mach Bolt: 120
Another deck-specific tech emerges from Team Up! I like that these powerful techs are less splashable than stuff we have seen in the past, hopefully it helps with diversity in the meta. Anyway, onto card talk. Tapu Koko will be played as a form of Energy acceleration in decks that include Lightning Energy. This card will be slapped into Rayquaza-GX decks for sure, and I suspect a lot of players will try this Tapu Koko with the new Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, but I am not totally sold on that combo yet.
Gengar & Mimikyu-GX — 240 HP — P
PP Poltergeist: 50×
Your opponent reveals their hand. This attack does 50 damage for each Trainer card you find there.
P+ Horror House-GX
Your opponent can’t play any cards from their hand during their next turn. If this Pokémon has at least 1 extra Psychic Energy attached to it (in addition to this attack’s cost), each player draws cards until they have 7 cards in their hand. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
I hate to break it to everyone, but this card is actually a great tool for the Control decks running around! New combinations can definitely be formed around this bad boy, but I can already see fellow SixPrizes writer Isaiah Williams sleeving this up in his Zoroark Control deck at the next Expanded Regionals. The GX attack essentially forces the opponent to skip their turn, which relieves a great deal of pressure and allows for a lot to be done with minimal interference. I don’t know about other players, but I suspect this card’s release had a big part in the banning of Unown DAMAGE.
5. Mr. Mime TEU
Mr. Mime — 80 HP — P
Ability: Retrieval Block
Your opponent can’t put Pokémon with any damage counters on them, or any cards attached to them, into their hand.
CC Psy Bolt: 20
Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Paralyzed.
This card is arguably the weakest on my list, and could potentially be replaced by some of the cards that didn’t make it on, but it has such a unique Ability! This card is definitely a matchup-specific tech, not something you just slap into every deck willy-nilly. I also don’t think this card has a place in either meta at the moment, but it could make for a solid tech down the line. I would definitely keep this card in mind, especially if you are ever having problems with Acerola!
Alolan Muk — 120 HP — D
Stage 1 — Evolves from Alolan Grimer
Ability: Unusual Appetite
When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1-of your Pokémon during your turn, you may look at the top 6 cards of your opponent’s deck and discard any number of Item cards you find there. Your opponent shuffles the other cards back into their deck.
DCC Gunk Shot: 80
Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Poisoned.
This card has a few different uses in my mind, so let’s go through all of them!
- This card can be used as a damage modifier for Garbodor GRI, which is reliant on the opponent having Items in their discard pile. This seems more realistic in the Standard format where Garbodor is lacking a reasonable partner.
- This card can be used as a resource manipulator in decks that aim to outlast the opponent. This means that at any point in the game, they could discard a crucial Item such as Rescue Stretcher.
- This card can be used repeatedly, in conjunction with other options to mill the opponent, in an attempt to deck the opponent out in a quick manner. I say in a quick manner because slow deck-out decks have already established themselves in both formats, and win via other loops.
Alolan Ninetales — 110 HP — Y
Stage 1 — Evolves from Alolan Vulpix
Ability: Luminous Barrier
Prevent all effects of attacks, including damage, done to this Pokémon by your opponent’s Pokémon-GX or Pokémon-EX.
YCC Aurora Beam: 80
But Jimmy, this card has been released before and was never super impactful! Yes, yes I know, but I think that the type change is a huge plus for it, and Safeguard effects are never something to overlook. Fairy type is much easier to use at this point in time, and I am very hopeful that this Alolan Ninetales can work as a tech in the near future. I could see it being used in decks that play Gardevoir-GX and/or Alolan Ninetales-GX. Alolan Ninetales-GX increases the consistency of any deck it is in, and in this case, allows for important defense mechanisms to be searched out in the early game. Something like Counter Catcher could be searched out to eliminate any counter the opponent might have to Luminous Barrier, and that is just one example of this duo working together.
Black Market p
Trainer — Stadium
Whenever any player’s D Pokémon with any D Energy attached to it is Knocked Out by damage from an opponent’s attack, that opponent takes 1 less Prize card.
Whenever any player plays an Item or Supporter card from their hand, prevent all effects of that card done to this Stadium card.
Prize denial has always been an interesting mechanic in my mind, but, outside of Life Dew being used at the 2013 National Championships, never a dominant mechanic in the game. While I certainly don’t expect this card to be dominant by any means, I think it could be a great inclusion in Dark decks. It can only be dealt with by an opposing Stadium, and the current Stadium options leave something to be desired for the most part. This leads to some decks not playing any counter Stadium whatsoever, which means they could actually never take a Prize.
Trainer — Supporter
You can play this card only if you have 4 or fewer other cards in your hand.
Draw a card for each of your opponent’s Pokémon in play.
I am going to put some faith in this card, but I do not think it will be included in decks in high amounts, simply because it is useless when going first, and generally weak in the early game. However, the Standard format lacks draw power, and I could see this card being a decent option in the mid to late game.
Trainer — Supporter
You can play this card only if your opponent’s Active Pokémon is a Basic Pokémon.
Put an Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokémon on top of their deck.
Yay, another good card for control decks to take advantage of! This card is actually allows for a pretty brutal lock in the Expanded format. You can use cards such as Delinquent to leave the opponent with an unplayable hand, and then put them in a consistent lock through the use of Nita and Trick Shovels, all while shuffling resources back in with Oranguru. I expect this card to eventually lead to some complaints.
I hope you all enjoyed another look at my favorite deck in recent history: Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX, along with a look at my favorite cards in Team Up! It is truly a mix of both worlds, with Team Up seemingly having a bigger impact on Standard. Additionally, everyone’s attention is on Standard at the moment, with the next few big events being the Standard format. Regardless of what events you are attending, I hope you have a few cards you are excited about! I know I am excited to try all of the cards I discussed in this article, and I am hopeful that they will shake up the format.
I will spend the next few weeks preparing for the Oceania International Championships, and will immediately go to Collinsville for another Regional Championships when I return to the United States. If you’ll be at any of these big events, or any of my local League Cups, feel free to come up and say hi!
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