Running the Tiers

Lists, Pros, and Cons for 10 Top Decks this Weekend (São Paulo, AC, and Cologne)
Welder decks are hot. But what else? (Read on…)

Howdy, SixPrizes readers! I’m back to bring you an overview of the current UPR–HIF metagame because I think the format has stabilized and we can identify what the best decks are. After Worlds, we saw that Welder-based decks, such as Mew Box, Blacephalon-GX, and Ability ReshiZard, were powerful and they have continued to do well at recent tournaments. Although Mew Box won Worlds and Blacephalon-GX made it to the finals, the protagonist of the format is Ability ReshiZard. We still have PikaRom, which is always getting good results and won the Melbourne SPE, and GardEon, which won Sheffield Regionals.

With all this in mind, I decided to update my tier list and discuss the pros and cons of each deck, pointing out the reasons why I’m classifying them as such.

Tier List

Tier 1

Tier 1.5

  • PikaRom
  • GardEon
  • Pidgeotto Control

Tier 2

  • Malamar/Spell Tag
  • QuagNag
  • Green’s ReshiZard
  • Dark Box

Ability ReshiZard

Pokémon (16)

4 Jirachi TEU
3 Dedenne-GX
2 Reshiram & Charizard-GX
1 Heatran-GX
1 Victini p
1 Turtonator DRM
2 Vulpix TEU
2 Ninetales TEU

Trainer (26)

4 Welder

 

4 Cherish Ball

4 Switch
3 Pokémon Communication

1 Energy Recycler
1 Fiery Flint

1 Friend Ball

1 Pal Pad
1 Reset Stamp

2 Escape Board

 

3 Giant Hearth
1 Heat Factory p

Energy (18)

18 R

Pros

1. ReshiZard-GX can deal 300 damage on turn 2.

As crazy as it may sound, TAG TEAMs actually don’t have high enough HP to survive the monster attacks of the current metagame. Before Worlds 2019, it was common to see Super Scoop Up, Mixed Herbs, and Great Potion in decks to heal damage, but nowadays these cards have lost a lot of their relevance.

2. Turtonator, Blacephalon, and Victini p can Knock Out TAG TEAMs in one hit.

Another insane aspect of the deck is that we have non-Pokémon-GX that can easily Knock Out TAG TEAMs on the same turn they are benched. Each one requires special conditions for this to happen—Turtonator needs Energies on the field; Victini Prism in the discard pile; and Baby Blacephalon in the hand—but even so, it’s not that hard to fulfill any of these conditions, especially in the late game.

3. It has the best Gust effect in the game, Nine Temptations.

Ninetales TEU could theoretically be included in any Fire deck, but no one could make it work in practice until Tord at Worlds. It was clear that Ninetales needs to have an absurd amount of Energies for it to work properly, which means only Ability ReshiZard would be capable of getting the most out of Ninetales.

4. It’s not an easy deck to counter.

Despite being the most popular and successful deck, we don’t have a deck in the format that can easily beat Ability ReshiZard. Decks like Malamar/Spell Tag and QuagNag in theory should beat it easily, but in practice these decks are inconsistent and often can’t keep up with the speed of ReshiZard. In my opinion, the best deck to beat ReshiZard is Pidgeotto Control, but it is still not an easy match, especially if the ReshiZard player knows what to do.

5. It’s a consistent deck.

Besides all that, it’s a very consistent deck. Many complain about having only 4 Supporters and relying heavily on them, but I believe this is not a problem as you have tons of cards that help you find Welder on most turns.

6. It’s the only deck with an easy matchup against GardEon.

If it weren’t for Ability ReshiZard, GardEon would probably be in my Tier 1, as it has access to Fairy Charm P, Fairy Charm UB, and Fairy Charm L to deal with Mew Box, Blacephalon-GX, and PikaRom, respectively. However, there’s not much it can do to stand the pressure and attacks of Ability ReshiZard’s attackers.

Cons

Being the most popular and strong deck in the format, it’s naturally on the radar of all players who aim to win tournaments. Meaning they will probably practice the mirror match a lot, or even come up with a list that can beat the deck.

2. You don’t have much control over resources.

In some cases, you’ll need to Dedenne away your hand, discarding resources that otherwise you’d like to preserve. This is the main reason for the omission of Reset Stamp from Tord’s Worlds list.

3. You’ll be playing a ton of mirror matches.

Being the strongest deck in the format, it’s only natural that you won’t be the only player playing the deck, and you will probably see many other players using the same cards. Mirror matches normally depend on who can Welder more consistently, but they also need to be well played and make use of certain plays that can unbalance things, such as Knocking Out an opposing Ninetales to prevent the other player from easily Knocking Out your Dedenne-GX.

Mew Box

Pokémon (16)

4 Mewtwo & Mew-GX
3 Dedenne-GX
1 Magcargo-GX
1 Charizard-GX HIF
1 Solgaleo-GX SM104
1 Espeon & Deoxys-GX
1 Latios-GX UNM
1 Jirachi-GX
1 Naganadel-GX UNM
1 Marshadow UNB
1 Wobbuffet LOT

Trainer (33)

4 Welder
1 Bill’s Analysis

 

4 Cherish Ball

4 Custom Catcher
4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Pokégear 3.0
3 Acro Bike
2 Switch
1 Pal Pad
1 Reset Stamp
1 Energy Recycle System

 

3 Giant Hearth
1 Viridian Forest

Energy (11)

8 R
3 P

Pros

1. It can deal 300 damage on turn 2, just like ReshiZard, except you don’t need to Welder twice to do this.

If ReshiZard is insanely powerful for hitting 300 on turn 2, Mew Box is even more so for having access to Charizard-GX HIF’s Flare Blitz-GX that can do the same amount of damage with only 1 Welder + Energy for the turn (which can even be a Psychic one).

2. It’s full of incredible attacking options.

Venom Shot can Knock Out a Benched Dedenne-GX, Turbo Strike can Knock Out a Jirachi on turn 1 and attach 2 discarded Energies onto a Benched Mewtwo & Mew-GX, Cross Divide-GX can Knock Out 3 Inkay or 3 Pidgeotto on turn 2, and Lava Flow can hit 200 on turn 1 to Knock Out a Blacephalon-GX or even 350 on turn 2 to Knock Out a Magikarp & Wailord-GX with Buff Padding.

Cons

1. Power Plant is your nemesis.

Mew Box will always have to deal with Power Plant, and that is a problem. Although it runs a high Stadium count and Marshadow UNB, there might be times when your opponent plays a Power Plant without you having an immediate answer to it, thus preventing you from doing much.

2. It’s stopped by Fairy Charm P.

You can play around Fairy Charm P by running a copy of Muk & Alolan Muk-GX, or even using Double Blaze-GX, but even so, the match can be really tough.

3. Although its consistency nice, it’s still more inconsistent than Ability ReshiZard.

Mew Box’s consistency is reasonable and you probably won’t feel disappointed at the deck too often. However, there may be games you will get stuck and won’t be able to do much. This will always be a chronic problem of the deck, as it will always run several Pokémon that have no use unless in the discard pile.

4. Weakness to Psychic and the need to run Jirachi-GX.

Another chronic issue of Mew Box is its Weakness to Psychic, which is often solved with Jirachi-GX, a card that has this one and only purpose and usually sits on the Bench throughout the matches to remove Mewtwo & Mew-GX’s Weakness. It is not a card you want to use, but one that unfortunately you have to. If it gets prized or accidentally discarded, Mewtwo & Mew-GX will have its usual Weakness, which is not so great in a format where Malamar is popular.

One other thing that can happen is your opponent having a copy of Mewtwo & Mew-GX in a deck that doesn’t require it, such as PikaRom or Dark Box, to have an answer to Fighting Weakness and also as surprise against Mew Box.

Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel LOT

Pokémon (15)

3 Blacephalon-GX
2 Poipole FLI
2 Poipole UNM
3 Naganadel LOT
2 Naganadel-GX UNM
1 Heatran-GX
1 Dedenne-GX
1 Mew UNB

Trainers (29)

4 Cynthia

4 Welder
1 Bill’s Analysis

 

4 Beast Ring
4 Custom Catcher
4 Mysterious Treasure
3 Cherish Ball
1 Reset Stamp

 

3 Ultra Space
1 Heat Factory p

Energy (16)

14 R
1 P
1 Beast p

Pros

1. It easily Knocks Out TAG TEAMs.

Blacephalon-GX has always been amazing to Knock Out Pokémon-GX and it’s now even stronger for being able to 1HKO TAG TEAM Pokémon.

2. It’s one of the most consistent decks in the format.

This deck has unique consistency resources, such as Ultra Space, which can find important cards like Naganadel-GX UNM to draw cards. It also has access to Welder, the current best Supporter, and Mysterious Treasure, the best card to search for non-Pokémon-GX.

3. It has space and can use Reset Stamp and Custom Catcher effectively.

Unlike from Ability ReshiZard and Mew Box, Blacephalon-GX doesn’t rely on Dedenne-GX and it doesn’t have to discard resources wildly, so it’s able to save important cards to use at the right time.

Cons

1. Tapu Fini UNM.

Tapu Fini can be used in pretty much any list and muddle Blacephalon’s strategy. It’s possible to win even if your opponent has it, but the match becomes considerably harder. Matches against decks that can attack quickly with Tapu Fini tend to be bad ones.

2. GardEon.

Fairy Charm UB is also another strong counter to Blacephalon, especially because Blacephalon decks don’t run Lysandre Labs.

PikaRom

Pokémon (12)

3 Jirachi TEU

2 Dedenne-GX
2 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
2 Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX
1 Zeraora-GX
1 Zapdos TEU
1 Tapu Koko p

Trainer (36)

4 Lillie
3 Volkner

 

4 Custom Catcher

4 Electromagnetic Radar

4 Electropower
4 Switch

3 Energy Switch

2 Pokémon Communication
2 Reset Stamp

1 Stadium Nav
1 Tag Switch
1 Escape Board

 

2 Lysandre Labs
1 Thunder Mountain p

Energy (12)

12 L

Pros

1. It can find Reset Stamp at the right time.

Although it’s not as aggressive as the Welder decks mentioned above, PikaRom compensates for its lack of aggressiveness with Reset Stamp and Judge to slow down the opponent.

2. Tag Bolt-GX, Tandem Shock, and Lightning Ride-GX are game-changers.

While PikaRom-GX can Knock Out 2 Pokémon at once to get multiple Prizes, ChuChu-GX can Knock Out TAG TEAMs in one hit. Tandem Shock can be impactful to Paralyze every turn, especially if combined with Reset Stamp to reduce the opponent’s chances to remove the Special Condition.

3. It’s the most consistent deck in the format.

The main reason why many players continue using PikaRom is its great consistency. There are above-average Trainers that only this deck can use effectively, such as Volkner and Electromagnetic Radar.

Cons

1. It can’t consistently keep up with the speed of Welder decks.

PikaRom needs to Full Blitz T1 to keep up with the aggressiveness of certain decks, and that’s certainly not an easy task, even if the deck is meant to do it. Having 2 Reset Stamp can help slow down Fire decks, but the chances of your opponent finding a Dedenne-GX after Reset Stamp is high due to the number of Cherish Ball and Jirachi TEU lists have been running.

2. It has no easy matchups.

PikaRom doesn’t only have a hard time with Welder decks. Other archetypes, such as GardEon, QuagNag, and Malamar, are tough because you need to find specific techs, such as Lysandre Labs, and non-GX attackers, such as Zapdos TEU and Hoopa UNB, to beat them.

GardEon

Pokémon (6)

4 Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX
1 Xerneas-GX
1 Mimikyu-GX

Trainers (45)

4 Coach Trainer

4 Green’s Exploration
1 Bill’s Analysis

 

4 Custom Catcher

4 Pokégear 3.0
4 Switch
3 Cherish Ball
3 Great Potion
2 Energy Spinner
2 Reset Stamp

2 Tag Switch
1 Adventure Bag
2 Fairy Charm L
2 Fairy Charm P
2 Fairy Charm UB

 

4 Power Plant
1 Wondrous Labyrinth p

Energy (9)

9 Y

Pidgeotto Control

Pokémon (16)

3 Pidgey TEU 122

1 Pidgey TEU 121
4 Pidgeotto TEU

1 Ditto p

4 Oranguru UPR
2 Articuno-GX
1 Mew UNB

Trainer (39)

4 Professor Elm’s Lecture

2 Cynthia

2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy
2 Mars

2 Tate & Liza
1 Jessie & James

 

4 Acro Bike

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Pokégear 3.0
3 Custom Catcher
2 Chip-Chip Ice Axe

2 Pal Pad

2 Pokémon Communication
2 Reset Stamp

 

3 Power Plant

Energy (5)

4 W
1 Recycle

Pros

1. It can have a good matchup against Ability ReshiZard.

It depends a bit on whether the Ability ReshiZard player knows how to play the matchup. The best move for Ability ReshiZard player is to use Victini p and Ninetales to Knock Out Pidgeotto one after one. This is not always easy to achieve and does not guarantee victory, but it is the right thing to do.

2. Many players don’t know how to play against it, and the deck is a bit off the radar.

A lot of people don’t like playing against Control decks, and piloting them is not easy either. This prevents many players from practicing against them, giving them idea they are a bit unimportant. The deck becomes considerably stronger when the opponent does not have much experience against it or does not know exactly how it works.

Cons

1. Cross Divide-GX.

Espeon & Deoxys-GX’s Cross Divide-GX attack, present in Mew Box and Malamar/Spell Tag, can seal the match early since it Knocks Out 3 Pidgeotto at once.

2. It’s a tiring and time-consuming deck to play.

This is a tiring deck to play that needs to perform a lot of actions, making the matches last too long. It’s not a big issue if you’re well-trained and prepared to go through all that in a tournament, but if you started playing Pidgeotto Control not long ago, then you may have problems.

3. Although consistent, the strategy is time-consuming.

The deck’s setup is consistent due to Professor’s Elm Lecture, which works so well here. But its strategy is time-consuming as it relies on thinning the deck to start the loop of Trainers to control the opponent. In some matches, the deck may not have enough turns to control things completely.

Malamar/Spell Tag

Pokémon (19)

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

1 Ditto p

4 Jirachi TEU
2 Giratina LOT
1 Mimikyu GRI
1 Espurr UNB
1 Espeon & Deoxys-GX

1 Sableye LOT

Trainers (33)

4 Cynthia

4 Lillie
1 Erika’s Hospitality

 

4 Acro Bike
4 Mysterious Treasure
4 Pokémon Communication
2 Switch

1 Adventure Bag
3 Spell Tag
2 Escape Board

 

3 Viridian Forest
1 Power Plant

Energy (8)

7 P
1 Recycle

Pros

1. The deck is well-ranked in the metagame.

In a metagame full of GX and TAG TEAM Pokémon, playing a non-GX deck can give you an edge.

2. It has no bad matchups.

There’s no deck in the current metagame that can easily beat Malamar, so any match can be winnable.

Cons

1. Inconsistency.

It feels like no matter how many Jirachi or Supporters you play, Malamar decks will always be inconsistent. In my opinion, this is the main reason to place it in Tier 2. It could easily be Tier 1, but I don’t trust the deck enough and feels like it always bricks on me. Decks like Ability ReshiZard and Blacephalon-GX can put a lot of pressure on it and start taking Prizes on turn 1, making the setup even more complicated and decreasing the number of turns available for Mally to turn the match in its favor.

2. Cross Divide-GX.

Just like Pidgeotto Control, Malamar also struggles with Cross Divide-GX, especially when your opponent uses it on turn 2 with the help of Welder to place 6 Energies and KO 3 Inkay.

3. There’s no space for Custom Catcher and Reset Stamp.

Malamar/Spell Tag lists started to see success after they stopped running Custom Catcher and Reset Stamp and instead added consistency. As a matter of fact, the deck doesn’t rely on them, but in my opinion, those are cards that your opponent respects and feels apprehensive that you will use at the right time. If your opponent knows you don’t have them, they can make different decisions based on their absence.

QuagNag

Pokémon (22)

4 Wooper DRM
3 Quagsire DRM
4 Poipole LOT
3 Naganadel LOT
1 Naganadel-GX UNM
1 Ditto p
3 Keldeo-GX
1 Volcanion p
1 Espeon & Deoxys-GX
1 Dedenne-GX

Trainer (28)

4 Cynthia

4 Lillie
1 Erika’s Hospitality

 

4 Pokémon Communication

3 Acro Bike
3 Mysterious Treasure

2 Cherish Ball

2 Pokégear 3.0
1 Lure Ball

1 U-Turn Board

 

3 Viridian Forest

Energy (10)

8 W
2 Rainbow

Pros

1. It’s built to beat the metagame.

QuagNag has strong resources, such as Keldeo-GX’s Pure Heart Ability and Water attackers that can help it beat Fire decks.

Cons

1. It’s too inconsistent.

QuagNag manages to be more inconsistent than Malamar.

2. It’s not inherently strong.

QuagNag is not super strong. It can be good against the main decks in the format, but other than that, it’s deck with reasonable attackers at most. It’s capable of beating Ability ReshiZard, but it may not beat decks such as GardEon and Malamar.

Green’s ReshiZard

Pokémon (7)

4 Volcanion UNB
3 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

Trainer (41)

4 Green’s Exploration

4 Welder
2 Bill’s Analysis

 

4 Custom Catcher
4 Mixed Herbs

4 Pokégear 3.0

3 Great Potion

2 Cherish Ball

2 Fire Crystal

2 Reset Stamp
2 Switch
1 Energy Spinner

1 Fiery Flint

1 Pokémon Communication

 

3 Power Plant

1 Heat Factory p
1 Shrine of Punishment

Energy (12)

12 R

Pros

1. Power Plant.

In a format that uses Dedenne-GX heavily and not many draw Supporters, Power Plant can be extremely strong against decks like Ability ReshiZard and Mew Box, especially T1 if the opponent doesn’t have an immediate answer.

2. It can Reset Stamp at the perfect time.

While Ability ReshiZard has serious trouble using Reset Stamp, Green’s ReshiZard can use it perfectly. The Reset Stamp + Power Plant combo makes things even more interesting.

3. It has consistency without relying heavily on Welder.

Ability ReshiZard is really aggressive and strong if you manage to Welder consecutively. But if you don’t, there’s not much you can do. Green’s ReshiZard has Volcanion UNB and Green’s Exploration to search for the resources you need, including Welder. So the deck is indeed slower, but it doesn’t brick as much.

Cons

1. It’s too slow.

If your opponent is playing Ability ReshiZard or Mew Box and manages to escape Power Plant, they will aggressively find Welders and put on too much pressure.

2. It’s vulnerable to a quick 1HKO on ReshiZard-GX.

Decks like Mew Box, Ability ReshiZard, and QuagNag can 1HKO ReshiZard-GX as soon as turn 2.

Dark Box

Pokémon (17)

2 Sneasel UPR
1 Sneasel CES
2 Weavile-GX
2 Poipole FLI
2 Naganadel LOT

1 Ditto p

2 Dedenne-GX
1 Umbreon & Darkrai-GX
1 Mega Sableye & Tyranitar-GX
1 Greninja & Zoroark-GX
1 Hoopa-GX
1 Darkrai p

Trainer (31)

4 Lillie
3 Cynthia
2 Hapu

 

4 Cherish Ball
4 Pokémon Communication
3 Beast Ring
3 Custom Catcher

2 Pokégear 3.0
2 Switch
1 Reset Stamp

 

2 Ultra Space
1 Dark City

Energy (12)

12 D

Pros

1. Powerful attacks that can turn the match to your favor.

Dark Box has very strong and impactful attacks, although not easy to perform due to high Energy cost. Fully-powered Dark Moon-GX (6 Energies) is insane because Mega Sableye & Tyranitar’s Greedy Crush allows you to take 3 Prizes by Knocking Out a Pokémon-GX, such as a Dedenne-GX sitting on the Bench.

Cons

1. It has a complicated setup and is slow to energize.

The deck is not inconsistent, but it takes a while to build to it its true potential. It needs to set up a Weavile-GX and Naganadel as early as possible, and Naganadel can only take 1 Energy per turn from the discard. Beast Ring could help, but you’d need to find the card at the right time. Decks like Ability ReshiZard can use Ninetales to KO Weavile-GX as soon as turn 2.

Final Thoughts

 

This is my tier list for the São Paulo SPE. The decks I like the most are Mew Box and Ability ReshiZard. I will probably use Ability ReshiZard as I believe it to be the most complete deck to handle the metagame and not have to worry much about Power Plant and GardEon.

Another key factor I didn’t want to mention in my analysis is price, which doesn’t affect a deck’s power but must be taken into account in Brazil. Decks like Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX, Green’s ReshiZard, and Blacephalon-GX may not be the BDIF, but are much cheaper than the ultra expensive Ability ReshiZard and Mew Box, and that’s why I believe many variants of those will show up on the event.

I’d love to prepare my Ability ReshiZard list to win mirror matches—maybe by running only 2 copies Giant Hearth—but I believe this would be too risky because of Power Plant, that could be somewhat impactful.

That’s all for today folks! I hope you liked the article and see you soon!


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