All That Swell

The Metagame Review for LAIC 2019, Part 2

Hello everyone, again! I’m back with Part 2-of our metagame review for the Latin America International Championships. (Part 1 can be found here.) Today, I will cover the rest of the decks I think are strong in the current metagame.

We have only have four days left before LAIC, so let’s get to the final part of our review!

Blacephalon-GX

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No one seems to be caring much about Blacephalon-GX. I think most players will not use Tapu Fini UNM because of Cosmic Eclipse, which brought so many new cards that caught everyone’s attention, and it will deviate away from being the strong deck that has been since its release. We have to keep in mind that Blacephalon-GX made Top 8 in the last LAIC and the finals in Worlds 2019. However, I do think Blacephalon-GX might have issues dealing with some archetypes that are shaping up the current metagame, namely , Malamar/Giratina, and (with Fairy Charm UB).

The List

Pokémon (16)

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

Trainer (28)

4 Cynthia
4 Welder
1 Bill’s Analysis

 

4 Beast Ring

4 Mysterious Treasure
3 Cherish Ball
2 Great Catcher
1 Reset Stamp

 

2 Lysandre Labs

2 Ultra Space
1 Heat Factory p

Energy (16)

14 Fire
1 Psychic
1 Beast p

Key Cards

Naganadel-GX FLI

Thanks to Naganadel-GX FLI, the match against Pidgeotto Control becomes much easier to win, especially if you can use Stinger-GX on turn 2 with Welder. Stinger-GX makes both players shuffle their Prizes back into their decks and put only 3 cards back to their Prize spots, meaning it’s like you’ve already Knocked Out 3 Pokémon. Against Pidgeotto Control, you should be safe, as they normally doesn’t take Prizes. In addition, Beast Ring starts working immediately after using Stinger-GX, allowing you to attach tons of Energies to your Ultra Beasts. Not to mention, Reset Stamp also becomes much more effective.

In a nutshell, Stinger-GX immensely shortens the time of the match, preventing Pidgeotto Control from developing its strategy in time.

Apart from Pidgeotto Control, Naganadel-GX FLI can also be useful against TAG TEAM-focused decks, as both players end up with 3 Prizes after Stinger-GX, and Blacephalon-GX has potential to end the game the following turn by Knocking Out a TAG TEAM. But sometimes you will prefer to play normally without using Stinger-GX.

If you think my list doesn’t have an answer against ADP, think again, because it actually does. See, if you use Stinger-GX, your only concern will be Knocking Out ADP-GX without having to deal with Keldeo-GX. But what if the opponent benches only Keldeo-GX? Well, then you should be able to deal with it using Naganadel LOT.

And as for the matches where you don’t need to use Stinger-GX, keep in mind that Naganadel-GX FLI can always be discarded in Naganadel-GX UNM’s Ultra Conversion Ability to draw cards, so it’s hardly useless.

2 Lysandre Labs

As stated above, the biggest problems for Blacephalon-GX are Malamar/Giratina and GardEon, both of which got even stronger with Cosmic Eclipse.

Previously it was possible to beat Malamar/Giratina without Lysandre Labs, but now it’s almost impossible, as Great Catcher makes the Malamar’s mission to take knockouts much simpler.

Against GardEon, Lysandre Labs is no longer the ideal answer because of Chaotic Swell. The idea is to spend all of your Ultra Spaces and Heat Factory p to discard the Chaotic Swells first, and only then use Lysandre Labs. But in this case, the best answer is Heatran-GX to Knock Out a GardEon-GX and hope the opponent has only 1 Fairy Charm UB in their deck.

PikaRom

The only card I’ve added to my list is Great Catcher, which is now probably in every list out there. I feel the deck has stagnated as several other decks have further increased their strength with cards from the new collection.

But let’s make no mistake, PikaRom is still strong and it remains one of the most consistent decks in the format, having a chance to do well against anything.

The List

Pokémon (16)

4 Jirachi TEU
3 Dedenne-GX
2 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
1 Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX
1 Zeraora-GX
1 Tapu Koko p
1 Zapdos TEU
1 Hoopa UNM
1 Eelektross UNM
1 Pachirisu LOT

Trainer (33)

4 Volkner
2 Cynthia
1 Bill’s Analysis

 

4 Electromagnetic Radar

4 Electropower
4 Switch

2 Energy Switch
2 Great Catcher

2 Pokémon Communication
2 Reset Stamp
1 Stadium Nav

1 Tag Switch

1 Escape Board

 

2 Lysandre Labs
1 Thunder Mountain p

Energy (11)

11 Lightning

Key Cards

1 Eelektross UNM

Eelektross is a tech that you can use to have a chance against ADP, as it has 150 HP (enough to survive Keldeo-GX’s base damage output) and can Knock Out Keldeo-GX with 2 Electropowers.

1 Pachirisu LOT

I also see it as a tech for GardEon, as Chaotic Swell will prevent you from using Lysandre Labs.

2 Lysandre Labs

Although not effective against GardEon because of Chaotic Swell, Lysandre Labs is required to beat Malamar/Giratina. Both Hoopa UNM and Lysandre Labs are very strong techs to handle the infamous Psychic deck, as the former can easily Knock Out Giratina LOTs.

ADP

As more players test the deck, the more they realize that it has extremely strong elements. If players don’t adapt their lists to play against ADP, they probably won’t have much chance of beating it. Keldeo-GX and its Pure Heart Ability along with Chaotic Swell is a very strong combo, making Power Plant alone no longer a decent answer. And of course, what really makes the deck special is the ADP-GX’s Altered Creation-GX attack, which turns awful matchups, like Malamar/Giratina, into good ones.

The List

Pokémon (8)

4 Keldeo-GX
3 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX
1 Lucario & Melmetal-GX

Trainer (37)

4 Lillie
3 Cynthia
2 Cynthia & Caitlin
2 Guzma & Hala
2 Mallow & Lana

 

4 Cherish Ball
4 Tag Call
4 Custom Catcher

3 Switch

2 Reset Stamp
1 Great Catcher

2 Choice Helmet

 

4 Chaotic Swell

Energy (15)

6 Water
5 Metal
2 Unit LPM
2 Unit GRW

Key Cards

0 Jirachi TEU, 0 N’s Resolve

The Stellar Wish and N’s Resolve combo allows you to use ADP’s Altered Creation-GX attack on turn 1, solving the main problem of the deck, which is its slowness early on, but in my testing I couldn’t make it work consistently, as N’s Resolve may discard important resources.

I prefer a slower version of ADP and accept that I will use Altered Creation-GX only on turn 2. This way, it’s possible to use other interesting cards, such as Custom Catcher.

I don’t know if this is the way to go, as there will be matchups like Pidgeotto and the mirror in which Energy acceleration can make all the difference. Anyway, I prefer to bet on consistency here.

1 Lucario & Melmetal-GX

GardEon decks will be prepared to handle Chaotic Swell with Faba in order to hit Keldeo-GX. Lucario & Melmetal-GX is a very solid tech to beat GardEon, especially with Mallow & Lana, Choice Helmet, and Full Metal Wall-GX to resist the opponent’s attacks.

4 Custom Catcher

ADP is great for Knocking Out non-Pokémon-GX in one hit, but it has trouble Knocking Out Pokémon-GX TAG TEAMs. The idea of ​​Custom Catcher is to pick up easy Prizes on the opponent’s non-Pokémon-GX on the bench like Jirachi TEU and avoid waging a 2-hit battle with TAG TEAMs, as your opponent may use the healing effect of Mallow & Lana to prevent you from taking your last 2/3 Prizes.

2 Choice Helmet

Choice Helmet is an important tool to keep ADP alive until it can use its GX attack and then Ultimate Ray to attach to other Pokémon. With Choice Helmet on, ADP-GX is not Knocked Out by, say, Mewtwo & Mew-GX copying Charizard-GX HIF’s Flare Blitz-GX attack.

Dark Box

I tried so hard to get this deck running and being Tier 1, as I really thought it now would have all the right tools. But unfortunately, it still has consistency issues. I tried Professor Oak’s Setup and other variants, but the Ultra Beast one below was the one I’ve liked the most and that can make use of the new TAG TEAM Supporters the best.

The List

Pokémon (21)

4 Poipole FLI
2 Naganadel LOT
2 Naganadel-GX UNM

3 Sneasel UPR
2 Weavile-GX

1 Ditto p

1 Umbreon & Darkrai-GX
1 Mega Sableye & Tyranitar-GX
1 Greninja & Zoroark-GX
1 Darkrai p
1 Guzzlord CEC
1 Marshadow UNB
1 Dedenne-GX

Trainer (27)

4 Lillie
2 Cynthia & Caitlin
2 Red & Blue
1 Guzma & Hala
1 Mallow & Lana

 

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Tag Call

2 Great Catcher

1 Beast Ring
1 Reset Stamp

1 Choice Helmet

1 Stealthy Hood

 

1 Chaotic Swell

1 Dark City
1 Ultra Space

Energy (12)

10 Darkness
2 Rainbow

Key Cards

2 Naganadel-GX UNM

The TAG TEAM Supporters have interesting effects, but they all need you to discard cards in order to fulfill their extra effects. Naganadel-GX UNM will draw cards to use the extra effects, as well as help with the deck’s complex setup.

1 Guzzlord CEC

Guzzlord CEC has arrived in to stay. It is important for dealing with Malamar/Giratina, Pidgeotto Control, and ADP due to its high HP and Red Banquet attack that allows you to take an extra Prize.

1 Marshadow UNB

Dark Box suffers a lot from Power Plant and there isn’t space for many Stadium cards.

2 Red & Blue

There is no better deck for Red & Blue than Dark Box. In addition to assisting with the deck’s complex setup, it brings extra Energy into play as early as turn 2 to attack. Red & Blue makes the deck a lot less dependent on Darkrai p and Beast Ring.

1 Guzma & Hala

Guzma & Hala allows you to bring a little control to finding the right cards at the right time, so I decided to bet on just 1 copy of each Stadium and Tool. It’s a way of bringing more consistency to a deck with limited resources.

1 Choice Helmet

Since I’m using Guzma & Hala, I decided to try Choice Helmet and loved the result. In addition to improving matches against Green’s decks, Choice Helmet always brings new surviving possibilities to the table. Umbreon & Darkrai-GX with Choice Helmet can survive a Charizard-GX HIF’s Flare Blitz-GX copied by MewMew-GX, for example.

1 Stealthy Hood

The match against Malamar without Stealthy Hood is close to 50/50 and possible to win without this Tool, but with Stealthy Hood the match is much better as I can use Weavile-GX and energize Guzzlord CEC.

1 Dark City

I’ve never been a fan of Dark City, and I’m still not, but I think it’s a necessary card to break Power Plant and retreat a Dark Pokémon, especially Mega Sableye & Tyranitar-GX. What makes Dark City a bit better now is that it can be searched with Guzma & Hala.

1 Chaotic Swell

Another way to prevent Power Plant.

Ability Zard

After the big surprise at Worlds 2019, Ability Zard has been steadily dropping to lower tiers, and hasn’t seen much success in recent tournaments. The big news for the deck would be the new Volcarona-GX, which in theory has the potential to get it back to Tier 1. But unfortunately, Volcarona-GX is not as good as I expected, and I had a lot of trouble making it work the right way. It’s not easy to evolve Larvesta when you only have Pokémon Communication to bench it, and in order for Flaming Shot to be impactful, I felt that I needed at least 2 Volcarona-GX on the field, as only 20 damage per turn is not much in a format where Pokémon have over 270 HP.

Due to all of these issues, I decided to abandon Volcarona-GX and use the base deck piloted by European players at Worlds 2019, but with some slight changes.

The List

Pokémon (17)

4 Jirachi TEU

3 Dedenne-GX
1 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

1 Charizard & Braixen-GX
1 Heatran-GX
1 Victini p
1 Turtonator DRM
1 Volcanion UNB
2 Vulpix TEU
2 Ninetales TEU

Trainer (25)

4 Welder

 

4 Cherish Ball
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Switch

3 Fiery Flint

1 Pal Pad
2 Escape Board

 

3 Chaotic Swell

Energy (18)

18 Fire

Key Cards

1 Charizard & Braixen-GX

Charizard & Braixen-GX will help against Pidgeotto Control due to Crimson Flame Pillar-GX, which is capable of recovering discarded Energies. Plus, it’s a good card to play against Green’s decks as Brilliant Flare allows you to search for 3 cards from the deck, putting your opponent into tricky situations. In this case, they will either have to Reset Stamp you to undo the attack or accept you’ll have a much stronger turn later on.

1 Volcanion UNB

Volcanion UNB was not in the original list used in Worlds 2019, but I really like this card, especially with 4 Pokémon Communication, which makes Flare Starter consistent on T1. Whenever you go 2nd, Volcanion will accelerate Energy. It’s also a nice non-GX attacker.

3 Chaotic Swell

Ability Zard was one of the most used decks of the season. Its biggest villain this season has been Power Plant. With this in mind, I decided to use 3 Chaotic Swell to get rid of Power Plant and set up properly. Ability Zard needs a few turns to set up, and I believe Chaotic Swell can buy some time.

3 Fiery Flint

Swapping Giant Hearth for Fiery Flint was a very difficult decision, as Giant Hearth is one of the strongest Stadium cards I’ve seen in the game’s history when combined with Welder. As a side note, another Stadium card that was just as strong was Rough Seas…simply insane.

Back to the subject, I decided to take Giant Hearth out because the deck has nothing to counter the opponent’s Chaotic Swell, and this was bothering me. Swapping Giant Hearth for Fiery Flint has also opened the possibility to make use of Chaotic Swell myself.

Like Giant Hearth, Fiery Flint is also an above-average Item when combined with Welder.

Final Thoughts

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This concludes my summary for this year’s LAIC. I expected much more to change with Cosmic Eclipse—after all, the set has over 270 cards—but honestly, I don’t think the meta has changed that much. Sure, we have a lot of upgrades and a couple of new decks, but I expect to see a lot of Pidgeotto Control and at LAIC.

Today my choice is Mew Box, as I believe the deck can play against everything if well adapted. There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting at the table and adapting plays according to the opponent’s deck.

I also see room for completely new and impactful deck ideas, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens in São Paulo this week. I bet many players are saving their ideas to surprise everyone at the biggest event of this month.

Hope you enjoyed and see you next time!

Wish me luck!


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Reader Interactions

5 replies

  1. Cafe_do_bom

    Nice to see Pikarom listed here, one of my favorite decks. At first I was thinking about running more experimental stuff like Guzma & Pandam to search tools (amulet, bomb…? Lol), thunder mountain and a unit energy but couldn’t test to see if it fits, then I found myself lost in a hell of strange ideas to use most of SM12. Your list seems clear and consistent enough, gotta try it Semedo. Thank you very much!

    • Gabriel Semedo  → Cafe_do_bom

      Hey Cafe! I was thinking about the Guzma & Hala too, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it work. My ideia is similar to yours, getting Thunder Mountain, Choice Helmet (to protect against LoPuff) and Unit Energy Metal, Lightning and maybe running a Metal Pokémon like Celesteela GX as a tech card to beat GardEon, since Chaotic Swell prevent “blocks” Lysandre Labs.

      In the end, a consistent version of PikaRom with the right techs for the meta sounds better to me.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Cafe_do_bom  → Gabriel

        Thanks for replying me! What about the Judges on this deck? Could be there instead of Cynthia? Or having 2 cards less could mess up consistency?

        • Gabriel Semedo  → Cafe_do_bom

          Judge is good versus Green based decks, but I didn’t find slot for it. I would like to play one or two 2 copies.

          The “PikaJudge” deck with 4 judge and power plant is a different build and has another concept.

          About my list in the article, Cynthia is necessary for consistency and Judge isn’t good for draw, so I think it will mess with consistency.

  2. Cafe_do_bom

    Thanks for the explanation Semedo, now I did understand it. Yesterday I started testing this Pikarom deck and it’s fantastic, I’m happy to be able to play again! See you on Laic!

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