Advanced Strategies for Taking 6 Prizes

A Complete Guide to Naganadel-GX Checkmate w/ the DC Open Winning List
Alternate title: “This Deck is Too Confusing”

Hey everyone! I hope your Worlds experience was great. Whether playing in the Main Event or the Open, the tournament is always enjoyable. We saw some well-known decks perform well and some new creations as well! Ability ReshiZard and non-Rainbow Mewtwo & Mew-GX are two decks that did exceptionally well, winning the Seniors and Masters Divisions, respectively. won Juniors, and Green’s ReshiZard did well throughout, landing a few Top 4 placements across all divisions. Lastly, Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX surprised lots of unprepared players on Day One with its favorable matchups against most decks other than ReshiZard.

Personally, I chose to stick with my guns and play -GX. Since Naganadel-GX was revealed, I’ve wanted to build a new checkmate deck that revolves around the Ultra Conversion engine. This article is going to be a review of the deck’s creation, development, and fine-tuning during the final days before Worlds.

The Opening Move

The idea began with the first list I posted here on SixPrizes. That list revolved around a Mars engine and utilized the Reset Stamp + Mars combo. Once I created that list, I was unmotivated to improve it and couldn’t think of any new ideas to improve some of its bad matchups. PikaRom won with speed, Green’s ReshiZard won with healing, and destroyed the deck with its plethora of win conditions. The deck didn’t have a strong answer to , as the opponent needed to bench a GX in order to set up a single-turn checkmate. Simply put, the original list was flawed.

It was then that I posted my next article where I disclosed that I would be giving up on the original version of the deck and returning to the drawing board. It was then that I tried Toxicroak FLI and Froslass UNM as answers to the popular decks. Toxicroak can do 120 damage for 2 Colorless Energy if a Psychic Pokémon was KO’d last turn. Theoretically, this would shore up the PikaRom and Dark Box matchups. I played Choice Helmet to block a 1HKO on Naganadel-GX with Mega Sableye & Tyranitar-GX’s Greedy Crush. This list worked, but was still too slow and had the same overarching problem as the original list: fragility.

With a little under two weeks before Worlds, I dropped a concept list involving Steven’s Resolve and a variety of checkmating options into my group’s testing Discord.

For whatever reason, I was driven to optimize the decklist and get it functioning. Everyone told me to give it up and find a different deck to work on, but I kept looking for new ideas.

Once I swapped out the Mars engine for the Steven’s Resolve engine, the deck immediately began working. Steven’s Resolve allows me to search for my specific strategy against whatever matchup I’m against. The list was teched-out, but still consistent because Steven’s Resolve began the game and Ultra Conversion smoothed over the mid-game.

At this point, the only way to continue optimizing the list was to play games. I played a few games against friends every day before I arrived at Rahul Reddy’s house on Tuesday for boot camp. After every set, I would change a card or two. When I lost a set to Green’s ReshiZard, I found a way to add in the 2nd Snorunt. When there was a game I would’ve won if I played Dusk Mane Necrozma, I added it to the list. This process continued well into Thursday, the day before the tournament.

I attribute the development of the list to the people who repeatedly played against my dumb deck at Rahul’s house: Tran Nguyen, Michael Catron, and Chip Richey. If they hadn’t been willing to play 6–8 hours against Naganadel-GX every day, I wouldn’t have been able to work out the kinks and learn to play the deck effectively. Even when we weren’t playing games, they acted as sounding boards for my unending list of ideas.

In testing, I found myself stopping mid-turn and exclaiming “Oh I messed up,” much to the confusion of everyone. When I explained the different paths I could’ve taken and how the play I made was incorrect, they sighed and told me they had no idea what was happening anyway.

As Worlds quickly approached and I headed into Washington, D.C. on Thursday, I had done all of the testing I needed. The final tech spots were chosen based on intuition and expected meta. Here were the two lists I played at Worlds and the Open. For ease of understanding, I’ve separated the Pokémon into different sections.

The Two Lists

Worlds List

Pokémon – 243 Poipole FLI

1 Poipole LOT

3 Naganadel-GX UNM

1 Naganadel-GX FLI

 

1 Ditto p

1 Persian-GX

1 Dewgong UNB

 

1 Buzzwole FLI

1 Dusk Mane Necrozma SM107

1 Naganadel LOT

1 Nihilego LOT

1 Pheromosa FLI

1 Kartana UNB

 

2 Snorunt UNM

1 Froslass UNM

1 Hoopa UNM

1 Marshadow UNB

1 Mew UNB

1 Dedenne-GX

Trainers – 284 Steven’s Resolve

2 Tate & Liza

1 Brock’s Grit

1 Grimsley

 

4 Custom Catcher

4 Pokémon Communication

3 Mysterious Treasure

2 Reset Stamp

1 Beast Ball

1 Spell Tag

 

4 Ultra Space

1 Power Plant

Energy – 83 Triple Acceleration

2 Rainbow

1 Beast p

1 Recycle

1 Water

DC Open List

Pokémon – 253 Poipole FLI

1 Poipole LOT

3 Naganadel-GX UNM

1 Naganadel-GX FLI

 

1 Ditto p

1 Aerodactyl-GX

1 Melmetal-GX

1 Persian-GX

1 Dewgong UNB

 

1 Buzzwole FLI

1 Dusk Mane Necrozma SM107

1 Naganadel LOT

1 Nihilego LOT

1 Pheromosa FLI

 

2 Snorunt UNM

1 Froslass UNM

1 Hoopa UNM

1 Marshadow UNB

1 Mew UNB

1 Dedenne-GX

Trainers – 274 Steven’s Resolve

2 Tate & Liza

1 Brock’s Grit

1 Grimsley

 

4 Custom Catcher

4 Pokémon Communication

3 Mysterious Treasure

2 Reset Stamp

1 Beast Ball

1 Spell Tag

 

4 Ultra Space

Energy – 83 Triple Acceleration

2 Rainbow

1 Beast p

1 Recycle

1 Water

After going 3-3 at Worlds, I changed two cards. I cut the Power Plant and Kartana for Aerodactyl-GX and Melmetal-GX, bringing the total of Stage 1s that can only evolve from Ditto p up to 4! Because I was Knocked Out of Day 1 by a pair of in Rounds 5 and 6, I added the Melmetal-GX. (I wasn’t expecting GardEon to be a deck, so I didn’t even consider playing it before then.) I added the Aerodactyl-GX, a card I once played then took out, because of its versatility, either in winning post-Stinger-GX in one turn against PikaRom with Boulder Crush, or in crushing a reckless PikaRom or Dark Box opponent.

Card Choices

Pokémon

3 Poipole FLI, 1 Poipole LOT

I played a majority of Spit Poison because the damage is surprisingly relevant. I was able to rack up about 60 damage whenever I used Spit Poison. It works well with Recycle Energy and can set up checkmate or Grimsley plays later in the game. The single copy of Eye Opener is there in case I prize absolutely horrendously and need to peek at them in order to take specific cards. I prized Naganadel-GX FLI and Beast Ball twice on Day One, and had there been time to use Eye Opener, I could’ve won those games.

3 Naganadel-GX UNM, 1 Naganadel-GX FLI

The 3-1 split of UNM/FLI Naganadel-GX is optimal because it’s very important to use Ultra Conversion ASAP. The single copy of Naganadel-GX FLI works because of Beast Ball and Brock’s Grit.

1 Ditto p

This card is insane! In a specific matchup, I can evolve into whatever Stage 1 I need. An important piece of advice is to hold the Ditto p until it’s safe or if you’ve won the game, even if the opponent Custom Catchers it—that way you allow them to make the mistake of over-prioritizing the KO on Ditto p.

Aerodactyl-GX, Melmetal-GX, Persian-GX, Dewgong UNB

Aerodactyl-GX has equity against Fighting-weak decks, mainly PikaRom and Dark Box. In testing originally, I was using Wild Dive-GX as my only win condition against these decks, but I soon realized that another viable strategy against PikaRom is to Stinger-GX then KO a clean Pikachu & Zekrom-GX with Boulder Crush. However, I used Wild Dive-GX multiple times in the Open when I was in a rough spot. It’s incredibly threatening against PikaRom if I’ve already taken 3 Prizes with Sledgehammer.

Melmetal-GX is purely there for Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX. If I had played it on Day One, I imagine I could’ve won those games and maybe made Day Two! Melmetal-GX can 1HKO a Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX with a Rainbow Energy and Triple Acceleration Energy. The idea in that matchup is to prepare a Melmetal-GX ASAP and focus on taking your 6 Prizes ASAP rather than winning with Stinger-GX.

Persian-GX is best against PikaRom, but was pretty lackluster because I was put on the back foot and forced to use Aerodactyl-GX anyway. Ideally, I damage a TAG TEAM GX before Stinger-GX, then use Catwalk to search for the exact pieces to finish it off. However, in almost half of my games I was unable to damage a Pokémon because I didn’t get an early Steven’s Resolve, and was therefore forced into winning with Aerodactyl-GX.

Dewgong is only powerful in the Malamar matchup. In that matchup, you don’t bother with Stinger-GX and instead aim to take your Prizes quicker than they can. It’s important to set up the Dewgong so that it takes 2 Prizes. Also, ensure that they cannot use Distortion Door + Psypower to KO Ditto p when it hits the field.

Supporting Ultra Beasts: Buzzwole FLI, Dusk Mane Necrozma SM107, Naganadel LOT, Nihilego LOT, Pheromosa FLI

This Ultra Beast lineup used to be 4 Kartana UNB, 2 Buzzwole FLI, and 1 Nihilego LOT. Over time, I realized that there was no reason not to diversify the lineup. Dusk Mane Necrozma had niche value against PikaRom, so I cut a Kartana for it. Sooner or later, I had to cut one of the Ultra Beasts for a different card, bringing the total down to 6. I still wanted 2 free-retreaters, Pheromosa and Kartana, because a pivot position is very important in determining what will happen that turn: Steven’s Resolve or attacking.

Naganadel LOT was added to slightly improve the Mewtwo & Mew-GX matchup. I didn’t play against a single one, but it proved to be useful in niche situations. When I had a Triple Acceleration Energy in my hand and nothing better to do with it, I could swing for 80 chip damage that would later set up checkmate. This was especially useful against Malamar in maintaining the Prize trade, as Naganadel is a single-Prize attacker.

I utilized every Ultra Beast in some way or another. Buzzwole was great in applying pressure against PikaRom if I needed to win without Stinger-GX, or immediately won me the game if I pulled off Sledgehammer on an Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX for 240. Dusk Mane Necrozma was effective in walling against Malamar for two turns and in finishing the game vs. PikaRom. Naganadel, though I never swung for 160, took Prizes against Malamar on T2. With Nihilego, I used Void Tentacles three times! It won me the match against Gengar & Mimikyu-GX/Omastar because of Poison damage, and gave me a chance against GardEon in Round 5 of Day One. Lastly, Pheromosa is a tankier free-retreater than Kartana that can attack with Recycle Energy. It was useful once, but by far the most impactful overall due to free retreat.

2-1 Froslass UNM

2-1 Froslass is the perfect line. I originally had 1-1, but was sometimes losing to Green’s ReshiZard if I prized either the Ditto p or Snorunt. The 2 copies allow me to bench one immediately, applying the pressure of a 1HKO before Stinger-GX. Also, Froslass is a great attacker against anything because it swings for 120/140 for a single Energy. It was useful in more matchups than just ReshiZard, and playing 2 Snorunt allows me to draw into it more frequently.

The list originally played 2-2 Froslass, but I needed to find a cut. The 2nd Froslass is unnecessary because it’s only required against Green’s ReshiZard, in which you can save the Brock’s Grit for. Simply hold the Brock’s Grit until the Froslass is KO’d so you can shuffle it back into the deck and attack again.

Marshadow UNB, Mew UNB, Hoopa UNM

Marshadow is a tech against Power Plant, mainly for Green’s ReshiZard in setting up checkmate. If the opponent draws Green’s Exploration off of your Reset Stamp, it can be difficult to recover from their Reset Stamp to 3 + Power Plant. I also found niche value against other Power Plant decks or in utilizing Ultra Space twice in a single turn.

Mew is for more than just Bench Barrier. Although its main purpose is to block Tag Bolt-GX, Mew is also an important piece in winning the Malamar matchup. Because that matchup revolves around taking Prizes without Stinger-GX, Mew + Spell Tag is a great mid-game shift from Hoopa/Naganadel-GX UNM that can usually score 1–2 Prizes while avoiding the opponent’s Spell Tag. What I’ll try and do is force my opponent to place lots of damage counters on their own board with Shadow Impact, then capitalize on where they placed the damage by cleaning up KOs with this combo.

Against PikaRom, Mew is an easy checkmate. If you pull off a Venom Shot onto a PikaRom and put Spell Tag onto the Naganadel-GX FLI, you can simply Psypower to clean up the PikaRom. This works especially well with Recycle Energy.

Hoopa is mainly for Malamar. My original list played 3 copies, but I cut down to 2 and then 1 in order to make room for other important cards like Grimsley, Aerodactyl-GX, and Reset Stamp. The deck was completely crushing Malamar with 3 copies, and then handily winning with 2, so now it can win about 60% of the time with one. Though I lost a fair amount of matchup equity there, I gained a greater amount elsewhere.

1 Dedenne-GX

Consistency. If I don’t have much to discard on turn one (Triple Acceleration Energy, Custom Catcher, and Brock’s Grit are important cards—matchup dependent, of course) then I don’t mind using Dedechange on turn one.

Trainers

4 Custom Catcher

This card is absolutely insane and 100% required. I went from 3 to 4 copies in order to draw into it more frequently, but it ended up being important because I’ll use all 4 copies in a single game barring a bad discard. Having access to all 4 allows you to play more aggressively in poking a TAG TEAM GX with a non-sniping attack or in avoiding Spell Tag against Malamar. I would never drop below 4 copies again.

4 Pokémon Communication, 3 Mysterious Treasure

Consistency. 4 Pokémon Communication is great because the deck already plays a high Pokémon count, and Mysterious Treasure loses value as the game goes on. I’ve thought about playing 2 Mysterious Treasure, but I’m scared that I’ll lose out on mid-game draw power when Ultra Space is replaced. Mysterious Treasure usually functions as “search deck for Naganadel LOT or Nihilego LOT to dump with Ultra Conversion” past the first turn.

2 Reset Stamp

This card is perfect in checkmate because it provides another alternate win condition: the opponent drawing poorly off of the Reset Stamp. 2 copies is correct because it’s necessary to always have one available, and to draw into it if the opponent uses their own Reset Stamp.

1 Beast Ball

Self-explanatory. Use Beast Ball to grab an Ultra Beast out of the Prizes because you prize at least one in most cases. Another thing is that you can use Beast Ball to quickly learn what your Prizes are rather than having to do a long deck search.

1 Spell Tag

This card carries games. I’ve already explained its uses against Malamar and PikaRom. Against Green’s ReshiZard, Spell Tag allows you to win post-Stinger-GX if you’re forced to attack with a Rainbow Energy on Froslass. Without Spell Tag, you’d need to place 7 damage counters, with Rainbow Energy adding up to 8, KOing Froslass and going to a tiebreaker game. Spell Tag makes it so that you win with Rainbow Energy because you only need to place 6 damage counters!

4 Steven’s Resolve

Steven’s Resolve is the butter. This card is entirely underrated in any non-beatdown decks. I see Naganadel-GX as a counterbox deck that has the powerful option of Stinger-GX. Without Steven’s Resolve, this deck would once again become fragile against the hard-hitting, fast decks such as PikaRom and Malamar. On turn one, I can search for Hoopa + Recycle Energy + Ultra Space against Malamar. Against ReshiZard, I can search for Froslass + Water Energy + Tate & Liza. Steven’s Resolve demands a Reset Stamp, which clears the path for you to build and keep a larger hand as the game progresses.

2 Tate & Liza

This card rounds out our Supporter count, giving us some shuffle-draw and maneuverability at the same time. You can be carefree in using Tate & Liza in all matchups but PikaRom because the Paralysis from Tandem Shock is relevant post-Stinger-GX. If you’re caught without any Tate & Liza, it’s pretty easy for them to close out the game over two turns by KOing your threat with Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX.

1 Brock’s Grit

Brock’s Grit provides much needed recovery. Its main use is reshuffling Ultra Beasts back into the deck to dump again with Ultra Conversion. In most games, shuffling in 4 Ultra Beasts is enough to never run out when dumping 2 per turn. One important piece of information to note is the number of remaining Ultra Beasts in your deck. You may want to get greedy and hold off on using Brock’s Grit for more value, but don’t do that. If the opponent sees that you only have 1–2 Ultra Beasts left, it’s correct for them to use Reset Stamp in an attempt to exhaust your resources. The only way to find Brock’s Grit again is to draw into it or search for it with Steven’s Resolve, which can be hard if you only have 1–2 Ultra Beasts remaining.

Brock’s Grit is also vital in certain matchup to shuffle in specific Pokémon. Against Green’s ReshiZard, you must save Brock’s Grit for shuffling in Froslass (and Water Energy, if it’s there). Against Malamar, you almost always have to save it for reshuffling Hoopa. When the list ran more than 1 copy of these, it wasn’t a problem. Now that it’s an extremely tight list, you must time Brock’s Grit perfectly.

1 Grimsley

I can’t explain certain situations where Grimsley is good. All that I can say is that it finds ways to be good, mostly against Malamar. In most games against Malamar, the opponent has to play into either Dewgong or Grimsley; they cannot avoid both.

Grimsley can find some use against non-TAG TEAM GX decks and Malamar. Against most other decks, it’s safe to pitch it, though I always try and hold onto it if possible in case of emergency.

4 Ultra Space

Ultra Space is the bread. Early in the game it allows you to set up, while later in the game it acts as “draw 3 cards.”

Energy

3 Triple Acceleration Energy

2 Triple Acceleration Energy was too few, so here I am at 3. This safely accounts for a poor discard/prizing with a high enough frequency to draw into it. The problem with only 2 was that I would be restricted in not winning with Stinger-GX + 2 Venom Shot. I was running out of Triple Acceleration Energy before, so I added another.

3 has been the perfect number and I have never needed 4. If you plan your attacks correctly, you will never need 4.

2 Rainbow Energy

Rainbow Energy is an integral card, but I only have 2 copies! Once again, if you plan your attachments, 2 is enough to win the game. Save your Beast Energy p for an Ultra Beast, and instead put the Rainbow toward attacking with a non-Ultra Beast or weak Sledgehammer for 240 against Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX.

1 Beast Energy p, 1 Recycle Energy, 1 Water Energy

The Beast Energy p is there for strong Sledgehammer against Dark Box. It’s also surprisingly relevant in creating a single-turn checkmate against PikaRom, doing 40 + 200 with Spell Tag + Venom Shot after Stinger-GX.

The Recycle Energy is absolutely insane. It allows for unlimited pivot positions if you can’t find Pheromosa, continuous attacks for chip damage, and in providing a perfect checkmate with Mew. For pivoting, you can attach Recycle Energy prematurely to a Naganadel-GX so that you can retreat into a sacrifice the following turn. Chip damage comes in the form of Pheromosa, Hoopa, and Mew. Recycle Energy is especially strong on Naganadel-GX FLI post-Stinger-GX because it allows you to retreat and use the Energy elsewhere when you would otherwise need a Tate & Liza.

Water is there for Froslass and is searchable with Viridian Forest.

Other Cards

There are plenty of other cards I brainstormed in the 3.0 list (Steven’s Resolve version), so here’s the comprehensive list of everything I actually tested. There are another 20–30 cards I noted but never tried, so I’m omitting those from the list with reasons. I list each card followed by a quick reason why it would be good.

And for the full list: Tapu Fini UNM, Weakness Guard Energy, Honchkrow-GX, Nanu, Giratina LOT, Lt. Surge’s Strategy, Pal Pad, Chip-Chip Ice Axe, Pheromosa & Buzzwole-GX, Araquanid UPR, Cyrus p, Unit Energy GRW, Black Market p, Giant Bomb, Jirachi-GX, Counter Gain, Lure Ball, Lysandre Labs.

General Strategy

The #1 piece of knowledge to remember when playing this deck is to let your opponent show you the path to your win condition. You can’t go into a match thinking that you’ll win a certain way. I’ve won against every deck with and without Stinger-GX; don’t let the traditional way to win cloud your ability to think outside of the box.

The second thing to remember is that this deck is primarily a Stinger-GX deck and contains the resources of a Stinger-GX deck. This goes against what I just said, but keeps you grounded in realizing the deck’s overarching strategy. When I first added Aerodactyl-GX, I found myself always going for Wild Dive-GX to take 3 Prizes, then never winning the game, even if I took another KO on a Dedenne-GX. Even though it’s possible to win without Stinger-GX, it’s still your main strategy against most matchups. (Malamar, Dark Box, and GardEon are non-Stinger-GX matchups.)

The third important piece of advice is to pay attention to your opponent’s remaining counterplay cards. These involve Custom Catcher, Reset Stamp, Judge, Power Plant, and Healing/Super Scoop Up. All of these cards make an immediate impact and serve to disrupt/slow down the checkmate. As the opponent runs out of these, it’s easier to set up checkmate and you’re more likely to accurately predict the entirety of your opponent’s turn. Once you’ve reached the point where counterplay hits zero or close to zero, the game is practically over.

Lastly, play patiently; sacrifice some Pokémon while you set up 1–2 Naganadel-GX and develop threats. Decks not playing Ninetales TEU only have access to 2 gust effects, so you can play patiently. Pokémon on the Bench are relatively safe, but you also want to put Ditto p down on the correct turn since having it protected is incredibly important for evolving into a strong Stage 1 in every matchup.

Here are some random pieces of information that are useful:

  • If you start Poipole + Basic, start with the Basic instead (unless it’s Dedenne-GX).
  • Don’t worry about attaching a Rainbow/Beast p to Poipole; you can likely make Venom Shot work sometime during the game.
  • Against Malamar, don’t bench Ditto p until it’s 100% impossible for them to KO it with Psypower + Distortion Door.
  • Against Green’s ReshiZard, you can bench a Snorunt to apply pressure. If no Snorunt or Ditto p are prized, this works when trying to win with or without Stinger-GX. If one or more is prized, this only works if you’ll win with Stinger-GX.
  • If you have a Poipole/Naganadel-GX in Prizes, search for Beast Ball with Steven’s Resolve rather than the Pokémon so you can add the Ultra Beast back into your deck. This also saves time because you can look at your Prizes rather than check for them.
  • Always search for Energy cards, Dedenne-GX, Naganadel-GX line, Ditto p, and Custom Catcher immediately. If Naganadel-GX FLI is prized, look for Beast Ball. Always check for “important cards” on the first search depending on matchup. Over time, figure out the checkmating cards and Brock’s Grit.

Specific Matchups

Given that there are at least five different strategies to win against every deck, I can’t provide a linear path to a matchup as I’ve done in the past. Each section will look like a conglomeration of different ideas. Depending on what you draw and what the opponent does, you have to choose which path you’ll take.

“Important Cards” are those that (1) you should verify are in deck and (2) usually play a part in winning.

PikaRom: 55-45

Important Cards: Buzzwole FLI, Persian-GX, Aerodactyl-GX, Mew UNB

Preface: If the opponent plays Super Scoop Up, it can be difficult to damage a Pokémon and have it stick. You’ll likely want to win in a single turn, either with Spell Tag + Venom Shot for 200 on a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX or a Boulder Crush. Another viable strategy is to win over two to three turns by exhausting their resources and winning with Reset Stamp + Stinger-GX.

Your main strategy in this matchup is to damage a PikaRom with Venom Shot or to Sledgehammer an Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX, then win with Stinger-GX. Persian-GX is the correct Stage 1 if you’re incredibly ahead and have already damaged a TAG TEAM. If you’ve failed to do so, you’ll likely want to evolve into Aerodactyl-GX in order to have the option of 1HKOing a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX.

It’s almost always incorrect to rush down the opponent with Buzzwole and Aerodactyl-GX. Reset Stamp is incredibly powerful when it puts you to 3 cards without an established board. For this strategy to work, you must already have evolved into Aerodactyl-GX because Ditto p is too vulnerable to Custom Catcher. If you’ve used Dedenne-GX, it’s smart to retreat into it before the opponent takes a Prize so that they are forced to use all 4 Custom Catchers if they want to avoid Sledgehammer (which isn’t worth doing).

Most checkmates come from Venom Shot into Spell Tag + Mew for a KO on a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. If this fails, then Persian-GX is a strong finisher with Catwalk and Vengeance. Another option is Froslass into Venom Shot after Stinger-GX.

In this matchup, keep track of your opponent’s Electropower, Custom Catcher, Reset Stamp, and Judge. These are their counterplay cards; Electropower boosts damage and can take 1HKOs out of nowhere. I’ll win about half of my games against PikaRom by using Reset Stamp + Stinger-GX. Usually, they’ll be unable to kill the Naganadel-GX with a non-GX attack, so you’ll have plenty of time to 2HKO a TAG TEAM GX even after Stinger-GX.

Green’s ReshiZard: 85-15

Important Cards: Snorunt/Froslass UNM, Brock’s Grit, Spell Tag

This is the deck’s best matchup because of Froslass. There’s not much Green’s ReshiZard can do, and it’s a relatively slower deck than PikaRom. Wall with random Pokémon at the beginning of the game—Buzzwole is the best option because it survives two High-Heat Blast—and then set up an easy checkmate. The ideal situation is 3 Naganadel-GX in play: 1 FLI, 2 UNM, along with 2 Snorunt and a Marshadow. You’ll want to time a Reset Stamp in combination with your Stinger-GX so that your opponent is less likely to disrupt your hand. The 2 Snorunt is important to play around Custom Catcher, and the Marshadow is there to play around Power Plant.

In the event that your opponent tries to come at you with only Volcanion, you can win the game pretty quickly by threatening KOs with Froslass or Buzzwole anyway. Like I said before, I’ll typically bench a Snorunt if given the opportunity, especially if the opponent only has 1–2 Pokémon in play. Buzzwole is an easy KO on Volcanion, but make sure to have enough Energy so that you can attack with Froslass twice if needed. If the opponent benches a single Reshiram & Charizard-GX, your best bet is to win with Stinger-GX into Spiteful Sigh.

Spell Tag is important in this matchup because of the reasons I put in the card explanation. If you’re forced to use a Rainbow Energy rather than a Water Energy, you can win the game by KOing a clean Reshiram & Charizard-GX rather than going to a tiebreaker game.

Ability ReshiZard: 65-35

Important cards: Snorunt/Froslass UNM, Brock’s Grit, Water/Rainbow Energy

I compare this matchup to PikaRom because it also is another fast deck. However, unlike PikaRom, the winning lists were not playing Reset Stamp. This makes the matchup very favorable. Ninetales is annoying, but I imagine that this deck can still win the game by benching 2 Snorunt and 2 Poipole at the same time. Because they don’t play Reset Stamp, if you use 1 Steven’s Resolve you should be able to win the game. Let the opponent take a Prize before putting a GX into play so that they must go 6–5–3–1 if they’re trying to KO a GX. If you put down Dedenne-GX turn one, you allow them to go 6–4–2 and win in fewer turns.

Malamar: 60-40

Important Cards: Hoopa UNM, Dewgong UNB, Mew UNB, Spell Tag, Grimsley, Recycle Energy

In this matchup, you’ll typically want to take Prizes faster than your opponent. You’ll probably sacrifice the first Prize, then counterattack with Hoopa. Don’t attack into your opponent’s Spell Tags if it’ll let them take a KO. For example, if your Hoopa has 110 damage and they have a Giratina with a Spell Tag active, it’s better to take the turn using Steven’s Resolve or passing. Preferably, this is a turn that I’d rather use 2 Custom Catcher to KO a Bench Pokémon, forcing them to overkill the Hoopa, but passing is better than swinging into the Spell Tag regardless.

Dewgong and Grimsley are your finishers. I like to hold onto the Ditto p until the opponent is unable to KO it with Distortion Door + Psypower. If the opponent benches Mew prematurely, you can win the game pretty easily once you KO it with Hoopa or your own Mew. In the mid-game, if the opponent has put down Mew and I can’t kill it without my own, it’s worthwhile to do so. This will set up the Ditto p into Dewgong on the following turn to net 2 Prizes.

Other attackers that weave in between Hoopa, Mew, and Dewgong are Naganadel LOT and Buzzwole. Since the opponent will put the damage counters on their own Giratina, Buzzwole can take a 1HKO with Sledgehammer. Naganadel LOT can 1HKO something when you’re at 3 Prizes, which is typically immediately before Dewgong. Work with what you’re given, and don’t be afraid to send up a Naganadel-GX UNM to Venom Shot a Malamar if given the opportunity. Their only way to 1HKO is to bench a TAG TEAM GX, and Mew blocks Espurr from taking the KO on the Bench.

Mewtwo & Mew-GX: 50-50

This matchup immediately becomes 60–40 with Power Plant because it cripples their deck in combination with Reset Stamp. Another important piece of information to note is that it can shut of Jirachi-GX for a turn, allowing you to finish the game with Naganadel LOT or Nihilego. Naganadel-GX FLI is also a strong attacker, which can reasonably KO with 5 Pokémon + Beast Energy p and 10 damage already there.

It’s very important to prepare a Venom Shot on Jirachi-GX ASAP. Once you get through that hurdle, you can then close out the game by KOing a Mewtwo & Mew-GX and then the weakest Pokémon on their board.

Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel: 70-30

Important Cards: Snorunt/Froslass UNM, Grimsley, Spell Tag

This matchup is very similar to ReshiZard. The differences are that they use a 2-Prize attacker and their deck is slower (because I’m not popping Beast Rings). The very easy checkmate happens when you Venom Shot a Blacephalon-GX and damage another Pokémon with literally anything. Then, you’ll use Stinger-GX. KO the Blacephalon-GX with Grimsley/Spell Tag and take a Prize elsewhere on the board.

Another win condition is running them out of Energy. In my match against Dillon Bussert, I was able to exhaust almost all of his Energy before I used Stinger-GX, which left him with very few threats in play. I Custom Catcher’d a Dedenne-GX, used Reset Stamp, and Stinger-GX‘d, so it was very difficult for him to return-KO my Naganadel-GX with Turning Point. Similar to PikaRom, you can win by exhausting their potential 1HKO and winning off of their weak hand/board state after Reset Stamp.

In the other game against Dillon, I won by taking 6 Prizes. This was fairly bold of me, but I knew I could pull it off because he wasn’t doing much. He had a Dedenne-GX on board that I could snipe with Venom Shot, and then 2 Blacephalon-GX I could KO with Froslass or Persian-GX. If he played Reset Stamp, he could’ve disrupted my plans.

Dark Box: 25-75

Important Cards: Buzzwole FLI, Beast Energy p, Aerodactyl-GX, Nihilego LOT

This matchup is pretty bad, but there are some things you can do to win. One strategy I thought of was to never bench a GX Pokémon so that you always get your Sledgehammer turn. Then, you can always get the Nightcap turn. This is a fine strategy in theory, but falls prey to your opponent’s Reset Stamp. It’s also difficult to get this working if you fail to start with Steven’s Resolve, as you’ll run out of draw power since you aren’t using Ultra Conversion. (If the opponent doesn’t play Custom Catchers, then you can definitely evolve into Naganadel-GX, as there is no threat.)

The other strategy is to force Sledgehammer, then go in with Aerodactyl-GX. It’s also possible to go in with Aerodactyl-GX immediately, using the GX attack to take a KO, then retreating into other Pokémon so that you can use Sledgehammer after they take a KO. Realistically, there’s no clean strategy in this matchup. You have to play to your opponent and figure out the correct decision based on the board.

Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX: ???

This is the deck that knocked me out of Day Two contention. I had no idea it would be played, let alone do well, so I didn’t put any thinking toward countering it. Little did I know, that matchup is incredibly hard because of Magical Miracle GX. Because the deck plays from the hand, it’s hard to retaliate unless a Supporter is drawn. Power Plant can singlehandedly shut down the deck without an answer. In all four games, my opponent used Magical Miracle GX and I didn’t draw out of it.

Losing to GardEon led me to add Melmetal-GX to the deck. For a Rainbow Energy and Triple Acceleration Energy, Melmetal-GX can 1HKO a Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX. The deck’s new strategy for beating GardEon is to rush them down with Melmetal-GX ASAP. Don’t even bother trying to set up Stinger GX; Steven’s Resolve for the pieces and take KOs.

I haven’t played a game against GardEon with the Melmetal-GX, but I think that it can swing the matchup to favorable if you can attack with it on T3. This is before they can use Magical Miracle-GX, so you can remove a fair amount of Energy on board with it. Sometimes you can automatically win by drawing 2 Triple Acceleration Energy in a row. It requires further testing.

If you can’t get the Melmetal-GX strategy to work, then you’ll have to rely on applying pressure somehow else. My goal was to use Void Tentacles on Nihilego to Poison + Confuse them, then pivot into Froslass. In all four games I never drew into a Snorunt, so I couldn’t get it going. Naganadel-GX FLI is also a good attacker, as it can 2HKO with Beast Energy p.

Trying to checkmate them seems incorrect as there is plenty of healing cards: Super Scoop Up, Mixed Herbs, and Great Potion. Magical Miracle-GX completely shuts down this deck.

Worlds & DC Open Performances

Worlds—Day One

R1: Malamar (1-0)
R2: PikaRom (1-2)
R3: PikaRom (2-0)
R4: Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel (2-0)
R5: GardEon (0-2)
R6: GardEon (0-2)

3-3 Drop

DC Open

R1: PikaRom (2-0)
R2: PikaRom (1-1)
R3: Malamar (2-0)
R4: Gengar & Mimikyu-GX/Omastar (2-0)
R5: Green’s ReshiZard (2-0)
R6: PikaRom (2-0)
R7: Malamar (2-1)
R8: PikaRom (2-0)
R9: Green’s ReshiZard (2-0)

8-0-1

As I briefly wrote in my Twitter post, I lost R2 to PikaRom because he played Cyrus p. I won Game 1, lost Game 2 to a destructive Cyrus p + Tag Bolt-GX, then lost Game 3 because I prized Naganadel-GX FLI and Beast Ball. In Rounds 5 and 6, I played against GardEon and was swiftly destroyed.

In the Open, I tied Round 2 against PikaRom because I lost a 25-minute Game 1. He used all 4 Custom Catcher and 2 Electropower within the first three turns, so even though I prized Mew, I didn’t think I could scoop. What eventually happened is I lost the game a few turns after Stinger-GX because I couldn’t draw my last Triple Acceleration Energy for a few turns to close out the game.

Conclusion

That’s all for this article! It’s an incredibly long one, but I hope you enjoyed. I spewed out all of my thoughts here, so hopefully it’s enough to answer all questions you may have had. This is the deck I’ve spent the most time perfecting since Espeon-GX/Garbodor in 2017. It’s both incredibly difficult and incredibly rewarding to learn! Have fun and good luck trying it out.

Xander

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