A Good Thing Going

PikaRom and Hoopa/Umbreon for Berlin/the EUIC, and Unbroken Bonds Favs
@tablemon
Hello from London!

Hello 6P! I’m back with another article and this time I am writing it all the way from London! I came to Europe a bit early due to flight availability, costs, and also to catch a soccer match of my all-time favorite team, Chelsea, while I was here. There are no direct flights from Mexico to Berlin (or it feels like to anywhere, really; it’s horribly connected for a capital city), and thus it all worked out. I enjoyed the game with Joe Bernard, who will be casting the EUIC this weekend!

It feels like we’ve been in the SUM–TEU Standard format for forever now, and even though time-wise it’s lasted the same duration as every other format, the sheer amount of tournaments that have taken place during this time all over the world between Regionals, SPEs, and now the IC is crazy! Not only that, but we still have two more weekends after the EUIC with Team Up.

Daytona Recap

Daytona Regionals took place this past weekend, and it was taken down by yet another Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX Control deck. I was not surprised to hear that the DDG group was running this deck again, as the Lusamine ban made it so people dismissed this sort of deck and were less likely to test or tech against it, thus it thrived and succeeded. Now that it’s back on everyone’s radar, I would not be surprised to see Pokémon Ranger see an increase in play at Hartford.

I myself did not attend Daytona, as I vowed I was done with Expanded, and I’ve already traveled quite a bit this quarter where I decided I’d push to secure a Travel Award for NAIC and the Day 2 spot for Worlds. So far I remain 2nd and 5th in each ranking, and I’m hoping to close out this incredibly good quarter for me with a great Berlin performance.

Berlin / The EUIC

Historically I’ve done badly at ICs, other than my 2nd place in Melbourne a couple of years ago, so I’m hoping to carry the great momentum I’ve built up with Pikachu & Zekrom-GX and add to my tally of 500+ CP this quarter alone with the deck.

My list hasn’t changed much between events, moving around only one or two tech cards at most. With that in mind, this is probably what I’ll be going with for the EUIC. I don’t see myself changing decks, but perhaps I will adapt a few other cards to solidify matchups.

PikaRom

Pokémon (15)

3 Jirachi TEU

2 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX

2 Zapdos TEU

1 Zeraora-GX

1 Tapu Koko-GX

1 Tapu Koko p

1 Eevee SUM

1 Jolteon-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Absol TEU

1 Marshadow SLG

Trainer (35)

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

3 Volkner

1 Erika’s Hospitality

 

4 Electropower

4 Ultra Ball

3 Nest Ball

2 Energy Switch

2 Switch

1 Escape Rope

1 Rescue Stretcher

2 Choice Band

2 Escape Board

 

1 Thunder Mountain p

1 Viridian Forest

Energy (10)

10 Lightning

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 15

* 3 Jirachi TEU 99
* 2 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX TEU 33
* 2 Zapdos TEU 40
* 1 Zeraora-GX LOT 86
* 1 Tapu Koko-GX GRI 47
* 1 Tapu Koko p TEU 51
* 1 Eevee SUM 101
* 1 Jolteon-GX PR-SM 173
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Absol TEU 88
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 4 Lillie SUM 122
* 4 Guzma BUS 115
* 3 Volkner UPR 135
* 1 Erika’s Hospitality TEU 140
* 4 Electropower LOT 172
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 135
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 2 Energy Switch SUM 117
* 2 Switch SUM 132
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 114
* 2 Escape Board UPR 122
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 1 Thunder Mountain p LOT 191
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165

##Energy - 10

* 10 Lightning Energy Energy 4

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73154 ******

Card Choices

1 Absol TEU
Absol or Wobbuffet LOT is the big question for me, though I found Wobbuffet to be not as good as I expected it to be vs Zoroark-GX. Absol seems like it puts in more work overall versus Zapdos and decks, so I’m leaning toward it a bit more.

0 Weakness Policy, 2 Choice Band
No Weakness Policy means I’m more open to retaliation by Lycanrocs, but the card has proven to be a bit underwhelming and I’ve been in situations where not having the extra damage bonus of Choice Band for my attackers has actually cost me a couple of games.

3 Jirachi TEU
I went down to 2 Jirachi for Denver but I hated it, especially with the Let Loose craze that is going around, so I decided to drop my 11th Energy for the 3rd Jirachi. Starting Jirachi is so strong that I’m even contemplating adding the 4th back in.

1-1 Jolteon-GX
The Jolteon-GX is the card that I’m the most suspect about. Even though Jolteon-GX can be a good attacker, especially in matchups like all Zapdos variants, it also feels like wasted space a lot of the time, so I’m wondering if having a 4th Jirachi and a Field Blower in those spots might be better. I want a Field Blower in particular to mess with Zapdos decks even more by removing Escape Boards and Choice Bands, but also to remove Bodybuilding Dumbbells from Control decks and the pesky Ancient Crystal from Regigigas.

A Trusty Deck

Other than that, I’m very confident in the deck and my ability to play it properly, and that is something that I think is undervalued. People talk a lot about making the right metagame call and matchups, but ultimately, more games are often lost due to mistakes and misplays rather than matchups. Being confident in a deck and knowing its inner workings really well can actually be a major factor, even if you hit a non-ideal matchup.

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX decks, while they are quite popular, haven’t gotten that breakthrough win yet at a big or prestigious event, so I’m hoping that will lead to there being not too many counters for it at the event. European metagames and decks are usually very different from North American, but going into an unexpected format, having a trusty deck with you is always a great approach.

Hoopa/Umbreon

I don’t expect anything surprising at the EUIC, other than perhaps Hoopa/Umbreon decks based on the latest Japanese results and Shintaro Ito’s Top 8 deck. I tried out the deck myself and it felt very underwhelming, mainly due to the two Energy attachment requirements for Hoopa. That makes it so that Hoopa is usually used to cheese games off of players with no non-GX Pokémon counters to it, or utilize Umbreon to dispatch the few they have. It takes a horrible Malamar matchup, however, and a sketchy Zapdos one, so I ended up dropping the concept all together. Here is the list that I was trying out. Maybe it’ll be better once Unbroken Bonds is legal for tournament play and it can incorporate Spiritomb and PokéGear 3.0:

Pokémon (11)

4 Eevee SUM

4 Hoopa SLG

3 Umbreon LOT

Trainer (36)

4 Cynthia

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

3 Erika’s Hospitality

2 Judge

2 Professor Kukui

 

4 Nest Ball

3 Counter Catcher

3 Ultra Ball

2 Judge Whistle

1 Rescue Stretcher

 

3 Devoured Field

1 Black Market p

Energy (13)

9 Darkness

4 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 11

* 4 Eevee SUM 101
* 4 Hoopa SLG 55
* 3 Umbreon LOT 120

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 3 Counter Catcher CIN 120
* 3 Devoured Field CIN 93
* 3 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 3 Erika’s Hospitality TEU 174
* 1 Black Market p TEU 134
* 4 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Lillie UPR 151
* 4 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Professor Kukui SUM 148
* 2 Judge LOT 209
* 2 Judge Whistle TEU 194

##Energy - 13

* 4 Double Colorless Energy GRI 166
* 9 Darkness Energy BUS 168

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73154 ******

Unbroken Bonds Favs

I know many people reading this are not going to the EUIC and their next event will be Santa Clara or Madison, where Unbroken Bonds will be legal, so I want to touch on my favorite cards from the set that I’ll be focusing on once the EUIC is over.

Reshiram & Charizard-GX

Reshiram & Charizard-GX — 270 HP — R
Basic — TAG TEAM

RC Outrage: 30+
This attack does 10 more damage for each damage counter on this Pokémon.

RRRC Flare Strike: 230
This Pokémon can’t use Flare Strike during your next turn.

RRR[+] Double Blaze GX: 200+
If this Pokémon has at least 3 extra R Energy attached to it (in addition to this attack’s cost), this attack does 100 more damage, and this attack’s damage isn’t affected by any effects on your opponent’s Active Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

TAG TEAM rule: When your TAG TEAM is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 3 Prize cards.

weakness: W×2
resistance:
retreat: 3

BulbapediaThe big poster boy of the set, it seems like PCL finally realized how to capitalize on the fan favorites by featuring them in ultra powerful cards. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX was the first example, and the new Reshiram & Charizard-GX seems to be, based on Japanese tournament results, the next deck to beat.

Not only is the card inherently powerful simply because it deals 230 damage with Flare Strike, but if you’re not 1HKOing it, then Outrage will likely dispatch whatever attempted to do so.

Finally, Double Blaze GX can deal up to 300 damage with 6 total Fire Energy attached, and with TAG TEAMs being a thing in the metagame now, 300 is actually a pretty good number to be hitting.

On top of the natural power of the card, it has a lot of great new Fire support in the form of Welder, Fire Crystal, Fiery Flint, and Kiawe. The fact that it has 270 HP, and thus Pikachu & Zekrom-GX can likely 1HKO one of them but not two, means this card will at least compete with it for Tier 1, potentially best deck in the format status.

Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX

Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX — 260 HP — Y
Basic — TAG TEAM

C Fairy Song
Search your deck for up to 2 Y Energy cards and attach them to your Benched Pokémon in any way you like. Then, shuffle your deck.

YYC Kaleidostorm: 150
Move any number of Energy from your Pokémon to your other Pokémon in any way you like.

YYY[+] Magical Miracle GX: 200
If this Pokémon has at least 3 extra Y Energy attached to it (in addition to this attack’s cost), your opponent shuffles their hand into their deck. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

TAG TEAM rule: When your TAG TEAM is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 3 Prize cards.

weakness: M×2
resistance: D-20
retreat: 2

BulbapediaTwo of my favorite Pokémon combined (as Gardevoir-GX was an incredibly successful deck for me) made this an almost instant favorite. The Fairy Song attack is really good to lead off with, as Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX can take at least 1–2 hits before going down and powering up others on the Bench.

The Kaleidostorm attack allows you to rearrange Energy and the deck to have a lot of synergy with cards like Acerola and Max Potion, making Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX incredibly difficult to take down. Not only that, but with the aid of all sort of Fairy Charms, you can adjust the deck to the right metagame and have almost immediate counters at your disposal. This deck alone will likely make it so every deck that features a GX that is stopped by a Fairy Charm will have to start playing at least 1 copy of Field Blower in order to be able to even attack Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX.

Finally, once you power up Magical Miracle GX, not only will you likely score a couple of Prizes and eliminate a threat from your opponent’s side of the field, but the bonus effect will disrupt your opponent’s hand and allow them only one card to start their next turn with, their topdeck. You do have to be very careful as to how you power up for that attack, but if you pull it off at the right time, it will surely be a game-winning move, no matter what you’re up against.

Coincidentally, there is no Fire-type Fairy Charm available yet, so even though the card is good, it won’t be able to directly deal with the newest shiny toy available—Reshiram & Charizard-GX—and that might just be this deck’s downfall.

Lucario & Melmetal-GX

Lucario & Melmetal-GX — 260 HP — M
Basic — TAG TEAM

CC Steel Fist: 50
Search your deck for a M Energy card and attach it to this Pokémon. Then, shuffle your deck.

MMCC Heavy Impact: 150

C[+] Full Metal Wall GX
For the rest of this game, your M Pokémon take 30 less damage from your opponent’s attacks (after applying Weakness and Resistance). If this Pokémon has at least 1 extra Energy attached to it (in addition to this attack’s cost), discard all Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

TAG TEAM rule: When your TAG TEAM is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 3 Prize cards.

weakness: R×2
resistance: P-20
retreat: 3

BulbapediaSurprise, another TAG TEAM makes the list! Joking aside, the TAG TEAMs are extremely powerful cards, as they should be, given the 3-Prize drawback of playing them, and though this one is weak to Fire and thus should be unplayable, it’s actually been doing really well in Japan in Mill/Control decks.

It’s humongous HP, along with the option to use Metal Frying Pan to eliminate that pesky Weakness and make it more resilient means that even though once KOed, it gives up 3 prizes, mill decks are built around potentially never letting it get KOed at all! As an offensive threat it hasn’t been seeing much play, but its Full Metal Wall GX attack reinforces the use of it as a huge damage sponge, since it decreases damage dealt to Metal Pokémon for the rest of the game. The plus effect is icing on the cake, as it is easily achieved by a single DCE, and it allows you to discard all the Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

Reshiram & Charizard-GX won the latest event in Japan against a Mill deck including this card, but I’m fairly certain that if the game hadn’t lasted only two turns, the combination of Hoopa SLG and Lucario & Melmetal-GX probably would’ve won the ~1,500 player tournament over there. In fact, despite the format being Bo1 with 25 minutes in Japan, mill decks have actually been consistently doing quite well over there, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the Japanese players play something of the sort for Worlds this year.

Others

There are other interesting cards like Honchkrow-GX or Persian-GX, but none of them seem to stand up to the power of the above three. Buzzwole & Pheromosa-GX was initially thought to be a dominant TAG TEAM based on Japanese tournament results. However, since Japan has three sets released, basically one each month, versus our humongous three-month sets, Pheromosa & Buzzwole-GX will never exist in a format for us that doesn’t contain all the Fire-type support and Reshiram & Charizard-GX as well. It will probably be included as a 1-of tech card in many Ultra Beasts deck variants, and maybe even in something like mill decks. However, I don’t expect it to be anything outstanding or an archetype by itself, especially with the Fire-type Weakness and Field Blower becoming a definite staple moving forward.

Conclusion

“Focus, my young Tablemon!”

I usually don’t like to focus too much on newer cards until they’re relevant for my next upcoming tournament, as I feel it takes away from the focus and it doesn’t help me at all to prepare. However, we’ve had so many tournaments with the current format that it definitely feels like I don’t need to delve too much more in it, and so starting to take a closer look at potential cards for Unbroken Bonds seemed like a good idea.

Next week the set will be released on PTCGO, so I’m looking forward to streaming the new decks and working on them in the lead-up to Santa Clara (plus Sydney and São Paulo) Regionals, where they will be legal for the first time. The only thing certain is that the most popular deck will be Reshiram & Charizard-GX. It’s an incredibly appealing card in terms of looks and power, and there’s a lot of Japanese tournament results to back it up. It’ll be interesting to see if this perceived popularity causes players to hard-counter the deck beginning the first weekend, or if they will follow the hype and play along.

I’ll be attending São Paulo Regionals, and even though there’s an SPE the weekend before in Cancun, I will definitely be focusing much more on Unbroken Bonds as I’m pretty certain I’ll be playing Pikachu & Zekrom-GX for Cancun as well no matter what happens.


Anyway, that will be all from me today! I hope you guys will root for me at the Europe International Championships this weekend (on Twitch) in Berlin! I’m really hoping to do well and get this bad IC streak done and dusted with a solid finish, and add on to my CP tally as we are now heading into the last final bit of the season. Thanks so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed, and as always feel free to direct any questions or comments here or to my Tablemon social media outlets. Until next time!


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