Hello again 6P! NAIC just finished and we had a very interesting tournament all around. Sadly though, attendance decreased at the event for the first time since the International Championships were first introduced. I would attribute this to a couple of factors, with the most important being the high Championship Points bar for the World Championships invite in North America, along with the late announcement of the necessary CP.
With that in mind, I think the best solution would be this: the North American International should be the first International Championship of the season. It should coincide with whatever new set comes out in November, and with the high attendance plus Regionals, it will inject a high amount of CP into the player base that will then encourage players to chase for an invite by traveling more. As it is right now, NAIC is the tournament to close out your invite if you had a decent enough season, looking at it as if it’s your last chance. However, if you start the season with those Top 128 or Top 256 CP, that would be a huge morale boost to keep pushing at more events to close it out.
Anyway, that was just a small thought I had that would perhaps help mitigate the stunted growth we saw this season, versus the previous one where numbers seemed to skyrocket.
In terms of the actual tournament, Stéphane Ivanoff pulled off what seems like an impossible feat, by winning back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. He also did it with two different Zoroark-GX decks, the latest one including a wide array of options such as Dewgong UNB, Persian-GX, and Naganadel-GX. Triple Acceleration Energy was the real star of the show, however, as it is what allowed all of these cards to work so well and have so much synergy between them.
I myself didn’t have such a stellar experience, as I was eliminated from Day 2 early on with a 3-3 record. I managed to close out the tournament at 6-3 to net me an extra 100 CP to close out the season, but once again, the weight of another failure at an IC adds to this curse where out of 11 total IC that I’ve played, I’ve only managed to Day 2 once.
I decided to go with my good old ReshiZard deck, as I was incredibly confident in its raw power and strength to overpower even the worst of its matchups. This is the list that I ended up playing:
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 16
* 3 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 20
* 1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX TEU 120
* 1 Miltank CIN 78
* 1 Turtonator DRM 50
* 1 Growlithe UNB 21
* 1 Arcanine UNB 22
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 2 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
##Trainer Cards - 32
* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 2 Escape Board UPR 167
* 4 Welder UNB 214
* 2 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Kiawe BUS 144
* 3 Fire Crystal UNB 231
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 163
* 3 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 3 Acro Bike CES 178
* 3 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Viridian Forest TEU 156
##Energy - 12
* 12 R Energy BUS 167
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73778 ******
The major changes between my São Paulo-winning list and this one were the inclusions of Eevee & Snorlax-GX and the 4th Guzma. Everything else remained the same and my decision to include 4 Kiawe kept being questioned over and over, but I stand by it. I missed very few Turn 1 Kiawes over the course of the tournament, and when I did, I usually lost; conversely, when I didn’t miss T1 Kiawe, I usually won. I had some unfortunate luck where I whiffed Choice Band at crucial times vs. PikaRom in Round 2, and my opponent also found their single Super Boost Energy off of a 30+ card deck on Turn 3. In other instances I would’ve had a different record to show for this list, and I was surprised at how much the deck underperformed in general.
None of my games were really outstanding one way or the other aside from the two situations I mentioned above. Having said that, I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently with my list, but I would’ve made a few in-game decisions differently for sure.
Transition Period (Goodbye, Cards…)
We’re at that awkward post-NAIC stage where Worlds will include a brand new set—this time even a whole new format—and there’s no way to practice it on the official online client. I’m writing this not 24 hours after NAIC has concluded, and all my energy was focused on getting myself and all the people I coach ready for it.
The UPR-on Standard format eliminates a lot of cards that we have been used to for the last year or more, especially fan favorites such as:
Many people are wondering about reprints, especially from the Hidden Fates set, but as of today, it should be assumed that these cards are gone for good. We don’t know exactly what is or isn’t included, and since Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX won’t be in Unified Minds, it’s impossible to accurately predict what will or won’t be in the card pool. This is frustrating to say the least, as any time spent preparing these next couple of days might ended up being wasted if we don’t get cards we expect, or we get some that are completely new.
With that in mind, here is the first deck that I intend to work on, as I think it is the most logical step to continue focusing on it given its recent success and because we don’t know the exact contents of Unified Minds.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 39
4 Pokégear 3.0
Energy – 13
- Cherish Ball replaces Nest Ball in a way, since it allows us to search for a Pokémon-GX and put it directly into our hand. This is better than Pokémon Communication due to the low amount of Pokémon in the deck. Starting Volcanion is great but not necessary for the deck work properly.
- Reset Stamp is the new and better way to disrupt your opponent in order to try and have them whiff the cards they need at the right time. It shuffles your opponent’s hand back into their deck and forces them to draw the same amount as their Prize cards remaining. That mechanic has existed in the form of N, but this is an Item and only affects your opponent. This will surely be a welcomed comeback mechanic that the game has been lacking since N was rotated at the beginning of the 2018–2019 season.
- Great Potion can be an alternative to Mixed Herbs, as it doesn’t need to be combined in 2-ofs to get the healing, though you don’t get the benefit of healing Special Conditions, too.
- Giant Hearth is a Stadium that allows you to discard a card and then search for 2 R Energy to add to your hand. This is much better than Viridian Forest because it doesn’t benefit your opponent, and it has the advantage of being a counter Stadium, whereas Fiery Flint is not.
Outside of the new cards, the deck should be familiar to everyone at this point, as it has been a stable archetype in Standard, achieving a Regional win in Santa Clara, a finalist placement in Sweden, and a 9th-place finish at NAIC.
Will Stay GoodWhy ReshiZard
The huge HP of Reshiram & Charizard-GX plus the lack of Guzma means Outrage is a much more potent and threatening attack than before. Flare Strike is extremely powerful too, yet it fails to 1HKO other TAG TEAM Pokémon now with the lack of Choice Band. Double Blaze-GX requires 6 Energy to achieve those 1HKOs, but that will usually mean a double Welder onto a single Reshiram & Charizard-GX will be necessary. The payoff will be good enough though, as I expect TAG TEAMs to keep dominating in the next Standard format.
None of the translations available show any real significant Fire-type Pokémon that could be added to the deck.
Volcanion provides Energy acceleration that the deck needs and is a great non-GX attacker to pressure and try to force 8-Prize games.
Reshiram & Charizard-GX decks will now suffer a bit from the lack of damage modifiers as Professor Kukui and Choice Band rotate, which puts even more pressure and importance on Volcanion to soften things up with High-Heat Blast. Thankfully though, there’s no more need to worry about Tapu Koko-GX taking down your Reshiram & Charizard-GX in one hit with Tapu Thunder-GX, so there’s little risk to devoting extra Energy outside of potential random Slowking LOT.
Eevee & Snorlax-GX makes an appearance once again. Even though I expect Evolutions to be played less, it’s still a good option to have in order to vary the deck’s Weakness while still having a humongous high-HP attacker.
Green’s is an amazing card to set up and find the necessary combinations, such as Welder and Giant Furnace or Fire Crystal, along with pairs of Custom Catchers or Mixed Herbs. Custom Catcher is especially strong as it will be one of the only ways to gust up a Pokémon from the Bench to the Active Spot. Bill’s Analysis provides similar support, but its resolution is random rather than targeted, and therefore it is an inferior option.
The 1-of Lt. Surge’s Strategy is intended to allow double Green’s in a single turn, double Welder plays, or one of each. It’s situational and therefore not something we should rely on, but having the option—and with Pokégear 3.0 helping fetch the card at the right time—is worth a slot.
The double Power Plant should help in stopping the incoming popularity of Dedenne-GX abusing Dedechange in the near future. The combination of Reset Stamp with Power Plant will be a good way to close out games and lock out opponents out from drawing the right cards to try and deal with the power of Reshiram & Charizard-GX. If Pikachu & Zekrom-GX ends up being the TAG TEAM to beat once again for ReshiZard, there will be merit to including Shrine of Punishment into the list as a damage modifier that will allow Reshiram & Charizard-GX to 1HKO it with Flare Strike.
Predicted Trends for UPR-on
There are various decks and archetypes that I believe will survive the rotation, which I will detail below, but I don’t have any lists I’m confident are reliable enough to share just yet.
I envision many decks will try out the Green’s Exploration engine, but it’s hard to say at this point if this will be the best way to run this sort of deck. Pheromosa & Buzzwole-GX, Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX, and others could try to utilize it as well, and it has certainly worked for them in the past. Especially Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX has a lot of potential in my eyes, as it can pull off the same Reset Stamp plus Power Plant or Wondrous Labyrinth p late-game combo, while eliminating an opponent’s hand with Magical Miracle-GX. That feels like a worthy enough checkmate scenario against many decks, alongside the myriad of Fairy Charms to help it deal with many upcoming threats in the metagame.
Dedenne-GX’s Dedechange Ability will certainly be the focus of next format’s draw power decks that rely on Abilities, so something like Pikachu & Zekrom-GX-based decks will likely want to rely on Jirachi’s Stellar Wish, Dedenne-GX’s Dedechange, and Electromagnetic Radar in order to thin their decks and find their resources. Lightning-type decks also boast the only way to pile on extra damage in the form of Electropower. Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX could also be a new inclusion in Lightning-based decks, as it is easily searched out and has some pretty powerful attacks, especially Lightning Ride-GX as it can combine with Tag Switch after a Full Blitz to do some heavy damage with the plus effect of +100 and +30 for extra Electropowers used.
Psychic-type decks retain Mysterious Treasure as a reliable form of search, which means Malamar FLI will most certainly remain a threat in the upcoming format. Ultra Necrozma-GX is as powerful as ever, so is Giratina LOT, and it can even go along with Spell Tag in non-GX-based decks. Mewtwo & Mew-GX will likely be splashed into many decks as a one of, due to its incredibly versatility Perfection Ability, though Malamar might yet be its best partner as it will allow it to use Miraculous Duo-GX in a pinch to heal itself fully.
Fire-type decks can go with the Green’s Exploration engine, but they also have the possibility of relying on Salazzle UNB’s Roast Reveal to provide extra draw power. However, without Nest Ball and Ultra Ball, it’ll actually be quite difficult to set up 1 or 2.
Jirachi-based decks are still viable. Even if Zapdos decks lose Nest Ball, just playing extra Pokémon and Pokémon Communication will probably be enough to help it retain its strength. Outside of Guzma and Tapu Koko-GX, the Jirachi/Zapdos archetype should remain almost intact.
Out of the 100% confirmed cards to show up in Unified Minds, only Mewtwo & Mew-GX stands out to me as powerful due to its potential to be included in any deck. However, Garchomp & Giratina-GX-based decks have shown up in Japan and had some success, so perhaps now that Kiawe and Choice Band are gone, Reshiram & Charizard-GX needs to take it slower to build up and therefore the other slower TAG TEAMs can actually compete with it.
There are many things to explore and discover from the new Standard format, and I hope TPCi throws us a bone soon with either an official set list or an early PTCGO update. Otherwise we are stuck with guesses until some random Walmart or distributor eventually leaks product, or we receive a full set list from an Elite Trainer Box or theme deck. Since this is a new situation going into Worlds, I would really really hope that TPCi would recognize this and act accordingly, rather than have us in this limbo of unknown information until mid July when Prereleases start taking place.
And with that, I will close out this article. My next article will contain much more refined information and lists for more than one archetype from the new format, but the closeness to NAIC is what limited the amount of information I had on hand for today’s article. I’ve already started proxying out some decks and will start testing on Skype to see what these decks can accomplish in the near future. Thanks once again for reading and I will catch you all next time!
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