Dragon Rushes and Darkness Graces

An In-Depth Look at the 2010 DP–UL Format, Part 2
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“As long as Spiritomb is your Active Pokémon…”

When I write these articles covering a specific year of the game, my goal is to write them to the same level I wrote SixPrizes Underground articles. When you’re done reading this I want you to feel that you have a strong understanding of the history, deck building, and gameplay of the 2010 format. Regardless if you’re here to play the format competitively, or if you’re just looking for a deeper understanding of the history of the game we all love, I want you to feel like this article is for you.

Last year I took a weekend to go and play in the Pokémon Regional Championships in Madison, Wisconsin. I had a really good conversation with the organizer Jimmy Ballard about how much the game has changed over the years. While many know Jimmy as an organizer, I remember him from way back during his playing days. Walking around the hall on Saturday catching up with old friends, I smiled to myself. Watching some of the younger Masters compete to earn their Worlds Invite made me realize I was actually playing in Worlds before some of them were even born.

In fact, that is one of the reasons that I want to write these articles. I want to be able to give a history of the game to players who did not have the opportunity to play in those eras. I think it’s important and interesting to show what the game was like and how the game has changed over the years.

There’s much more to 2010 beyond Bright Look, Psychic Lock, and Tail Revenge.

Several years back I wrote an article for an introduction to the 2010 format that was met with a lot of positive feedback. While I’m very proud of the article, I never felt like it covered everything I wanted to cover and Ieft too many things unsaid. In the years since that article, the 2010 format has only increased in popularity. There is a lot more discussion online about it and tournaments are still being held.

I think the things that draw players to the 2010 format are the diversity in decks, in-depth strategies, and cards that are still relatively inexpensive (with a couple of exceptions). Going along with this, it has one of the largest card pools of any format, which really opens the door with deck building. Also, something not talked about often is the aggro-to-control ratio that can make gameplay and deck building very interesting.

If you haven’t had the chance, I highly recommend you check out the first article in this series here: https://sixprizes.com/2014/08/04/bright-looks-and-psychic-locks/

Qualifying for Worlds in 2010

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At the end of 2009, Pokémon announced that Worlds would be returning to Kona, Hawaii in 2010. Invites to the World Championships were given to the Top 4 of Worlds 2009, Top X of Nationals 2010 (the US was Top 4; most other countries got fewer invites—paid/unpaid—depending on size), and then the Top 40 in the Elo rating system. The last way to qualify was through the Last Chance Qualifier affectionately called “the grinders” by players.

I went in depth on how the Elo system worked and my feelings about the system in my 2011 article. I’ll go ahead and link it here instead of covering it all again: https://sixprizes.com/2020/04/10/sweet-sleeping-format/

K Values

  • Battle Roads: 4
  • City Championships: 16
  • States: 32
  • Regionals: 40
  • Nationals: 44
  • Worlds: Invite Only

One of the changes to make things a little bit easier this year (2010) was Pokémon increased the number of invites to the Top 40 in rankings, but changed the system to not allow pass-downs. In previous years, for example, if Top 30 got invites and a player who made Top 4 at Nationals ended up #30 in the rankings, then their invite (from making Top 4) would pass down to #31. This year it was just a hard 40 players with no pass-downs, which meant less delay for invites to become final.

The last thing I want to note is that Worlds in Hawaii caused a lot of uproar among the community. There is no doubt that Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on the planet with a rich cultural heritage. However, the sheer cost of the trip and the fact that Worlds was held there three times in the span of six years (2007, 2010, 2012) was a large barrier for a lot of people. This didn’t seem to cause any issues for competitors and the grinders were still packed. However, there were some interesting stories about a few players sleeping on beaches to avoid paying hotel costs.

The 2010 Season Overview

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Dragon Rush for an Energy Gain + DCE hits different.

At the end of the 2009 season, for the first time in history, Pokémon ultimately decided not to do a set rotation. This meant that Autumn Battle Roads would largely be similar to the Worlds 2009 meta. As expected, they were largely dominated by Beedrill and Flygon/Machamp. Players had taken note of Fabien Garnier’s Worlds Top 8 finish with Gyarados and the deck started to see some play. Lists were still rough and this showed in its lackluster results.

Cities saw the release of Garchomp C LV.X, and the initial variations of LuxChomp started to take form. The lists were rough and you saw a lot of builds still running Claydol GE. However, it was clear the deck was a powerhouse, and Garchomp C LV.X made an even stronger partner for Luxray GL LV.X than Infernape FB LV.X had the season before.

When States came around, the HeartGold & SoulSilver set had just been released with so many powerful cards that it was poised to really shake up the meta. The set had so many good cards, but it wasn’t entirely clear how they would fit into the meta. A lot of hype was around Jumpluff HS and it was instantly seen as a Tier 1 deck. However, the card that people were most excited about was the reprint of Double Colorless Energy. It was clear that it was going to be a format-defining card, and it would only make LuxChomp a more dominant deck than it already was.

The meta for States largely played out as expected with LuxChomp being the clear favorite deck of many players. This was also the point where Gyarados decks found their stride with more perfected lists and took their status as a Tier 1 deck. Jumpluff saw a decent amount of play as well, but players were still trying to find the right lists. CurseGar also saw some play, but once again, players really struggled to find a good list for the deck.

I’d say the greatest rogue decks to come out of States that year were Michael Kendle’s Gengar/Garchomp C and Stephen Silvestro/Aaron Curry’s Sablelock (which took major inspiration from Koujiro Tsuruta’s 2009 Worlds Top 4 deck).

The Regionals meta was very similar to the States meta, but lists were starting to become more refined. With a decent showing at States, a lot of hype heading into Regionals was around Jumpluff as it seemed to match up well against the format. The meta ended up being very balanced and a lot of different decks ended up doing well. Gardevoir, Gyarados, LuxChomp, DialgaChomp, and Jumpluff all had strong showings. Gengar/Garchomp C went from a “it won a States deck” to an established archetype in the format. I also feel this was the point where Gyarados decks felt really polished.

There were a lot of conversations about what the right play was for Nationals. There wasn’t a clear BDIF and most matchups could go either way. The top players in the game all seemed to bring different decks. Ross Cawthon brought Gardevoir (it was a very small percentage of the field), Pooka had DialgaChomp, and Stephen Silvestro showed up with Tyranitar Prime. Once again, the meta was pretty diverse with LuxChomp being the clear BDIF.

Besides Silvestro’s Tyranitar Prime (T128) deck, other surprises were Jason Chen’s Blaziken/Sablelock (T32), and Mark Garcia’s Garchomp SV (Top 8). Frank Diaz completely flew under the radar with his CurseGar deck (T32) and, in hindsight, Gardevoir was largely underrated for the event.

Note: I think it’s worth noting here that Frank Diaz had the first really good CurseGar list anybody had ever seen. The deck saw some play here and there, but was more of a fringe pick. I just can’t state enough how much better Frank’s list was than any other list at the time.

Note: I also want to note that Nationals cut to a Top 128 and then a single-elimination bracket until the winner was determined. Personally, I always preferred the larger top cuts with a single-elimination brackets versus the more Swiss rounds that we have now. You can have good discussions about which design is better, and which one is more challenging.

In the end, Con Le won the event playing Sablelock with a pretty diverse Top 32. Alex Frezza played the exact same list (59/60 if I remember) to a Top 16 finish before losing to Con. I think it’s incredibly impressive that the two players who brought the deck to Nationals that year went so far, only to have the eventual winner Knock Out the other.

Heading into Worlds that year, there really wasn’t a clear BDIF to play. The format seemed incredibly diverse where techs and playing ability mattered more than matchups. A lot of players went with their comfort picks. One of the biggest surprises for me was Jason Klaczynski grinding into Worlds with DialgaChomp after never seeing him play the deck before. I remember I went over to watch him play his last round. I saw his opponent had Gardevoir, Gallade, and Claydol in play with both players still 6-6 on Prizes. I walked away knowing Jason had lost the game as his opponent was fully set up before Jason was able to do anything. I walked back at the very end and somehow Jason won that game. I wish I wouldn’t have left because I have no idea how he was able to do that.

Much like Nationals, the meta for Worlds was incredibly diverse. About every major archetype ended up in the Top 32. Yuta Komatsuda ended up winning the event, boasting a perfect 12-0 record with LuxChomp. The biggest surprises for me in the Top 32 were Regigigas, Donphan, and Erik Nance’s incredible rogue Steelix Prime deck.

For me, one of the most exciting things about this this year with Worlds in particular was just how much diversity you saw. Not only in how many different decks could win an event on a particular day, but also how much variation you could see within the same archetype.

Internet Age

@bad_packets

In society today we are so wrapped up in technology, social media, and in particular the internet that it’s hard to imagine a time before it. Most of the players of today probably never had their parents yelling at them to get off the internet because they needed to make a phone call. Even as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m on Facebook and watching Rahul Reddy stream his Limitless Qualifier tournament run.

At the start of the stream, Rahul showed his list and then I got to sit there and watch him play game after game with the deck as he explained his thought processes. Occasionally viewers would ask questions or want to discuss other lines of play and Rahul would sit there and answer questions or explain why he did/didn’t make certain plays. As somebody who was not familiar with Rahul’s deck, I left the stream with not only a tournament-ready list, but a solid understanding of how a top player pilots the deck. While this may seem like a soft plug for Rahul’s stream, it’s hard for me to even put into words how this would not have happened 10 years ago.

I feel it’s partly to do with the social media phenomenon of people wanting the attention, recognition, and admiration of their peers. I’m not saying this is all bad, but I won’t dive into the rabbit hole of the psychology of social media.

en.wikipedia.org
Inventor of the Elo system, Arpad Elo.

On another level, I also think it’s due to the change in how Worlds Invites are awarded. With the Elo system, every single game mattered so much and a single bad tournament could turn a bad day into a bad season. Stakes were so high nobody wanted to directly help their competition. In particular, at smaller events like Battle Roads and Cities, it was very hard to gain points, but very easy to lose them. If you showed up to a 40-person Cities and you exchanged lists with a handful of good players there, there was a solid chance you would have to play against somebody you worked with on a list.

The last thing I think that really made a difference was money. I think a lot of the top players realized that there was money to be made in Pokémon. I would like to think I was one of the first players who really had a solid grasp on how impactful social media was, and to this day it still amazes me how many ways players have found to make money in this game. Nowadays you see articles, podcasts, coaching, sponsorships, etc. Players are willing to give up a certain level of competitive edge knowing they’ll make more money in the long run by sharing their knowledge.

Note: I do want to take a moment and talk about how it amazes me that some players (a very small group!) put so much effort into their content, but then don’t take into account the importance of having a positive social media presence. I’ve seen people bad-mouth sponsors, be jerks to people online, cheat at events, etc. All of these things have a direct impact on future opportunities. “Don’t be a jerk” is good advice to help you go far in life…and in the game.

Overall I think it’s much better for the game as a whole to have information so widely accessible. As I discussed last year, I traveled to play in the Regional Championships in Madison, Wisconsin. I hadn’t played since the same Regionals the year before and was just looking for a fun weekend away. It was incredibly easy for me to simply go online, find a solid decklist and ample information on how to play it, and I was set. I can only imagine how much more welcoming the game is to newer players today than it was say a decade ago.

However, on another level, it didn’t entirely feel fair either. I had a well-tested and perfected Tier 1 deck that I had put absolutely no work into. I was benefiting from the hard work and testing of others. Building, testing, and working on decks should be a major part of the game. On some levels it worries me that deck building is becoming more of a lost art. Are players of today really building decks, or are they just fine-tuning them?

It’s important to talk about how different it was making friendships in the community 10 years ago. Generally speaking, everybody in the community got along quite well, but players only had a small group they built decks with or tested with. It was viewed negatively to ask somebody for a decklist…it was kind of a don’t ask/don’t tell sort of policy. You would be friends with people, share the same passion for the game with them, but only talk about it in a very general sense. It was even harder between local players, because these were the people you would spend the most time with but would want to be the least open with due to the high likelihood of playing each other at events. While I’m sure this still happens to some degree today, it can’t be as bad as it was 10 years ago. I would argue the biggest positive thing coming out of information being more widely spread is that it helps to bridge this gap and bring people closer together.

Deck Building and General Strategies

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When Pokémon SP were first released in 2009, they took the format by storm. This continued well into the 2010 season. There is no denying how powerful Pokémon SP and Trainers are. This caused three main ways to build your deck: SP focused, non-SP focused, or a combination of both.

1. SP Focused

The archetype was so strong because it had so much built-in support. Card combinations were obvious and incredibly powerful. The archetype typically was incredibly aggressive with strong control elements. It put a lot of early pressure on the opponent and had enough control to close the game out. LuxChomp and DialgaChomp are great examples of this.

2. Non-SP Focused

There were still a lot of really strong non-Pokémon SP in the format. Generally these decks were slower and had less support from the Trainer lineup, but if they were able to get set up, they were generally more powerful. Gardevoir and CurseGar are great examples of this.

3. Combination

Basically it was a non-SP focused deck with a small SP core teched in. Something along the lines of 1-1 Luxray GL LV.X, 2 Crobat G, and 4 Poké Turn for example. This allowed the deck to play like a non-SP deck but had access to some of the most powerful SP tricks. Great examples of this are Gyarados and Jumpluff.

Instead of going through and explaining the same cards in each deck write-up, I want to do more of an overview explaining why certain cards were popular and my feelings on them. If something directly impacts the strategy of the deck, I’ll explain it in the deck breakdown.

Chatot MD

In most matchups Chatot is outclassed by either Uxie LA for its instant draw or Spiritomb AR for its disruption and setup potential. The two advantages that Chatot has are:

  1. It’s a searchable Pokémon that gets you a new hand. This is incredibly good in general, but I find it extremely good against decks like Gardevoir that lock you out of Poké-Powers.
  2. The other advantage of the card is its ability to “Chatter Lock” an opponent.

Chatter Lock is when you use the Chatter attack to lock an opponent’s Pokémon in the Active Spot, and they don’t have a way to attack or get it out of the Active Spot other than retreating. Commonly this is done against Spiritomb AR since it is conveniently resistance to C -20 (so Chatter does 0 damage and can be used perpetually, barring enough Darkness Graces from Spiritomb to KO itself) and prevents switching cards like Warp Point from being used.

The general rule is you need to be ahead or tied on Prizes for “Chatter Lock” to be a win condition. In a tournament there is no way you would be able to deck an opponent out in the 40 minutes or 1 hour time frames of Swiss/Top Cut. If you were ahead when time was called, you would win the game, and if you were tied then you would only need to do enough damage to Knock Out the opponent’s Active Pokémon to break the tie and win the game.

Common ways to avoid Chatter Lock are Unown G GE, Warp Energy, and D Energy or Rainbow Energy. While Chatter Lock is not super common, it’s a big enough threat that it needs to be actively thought about in deck building and playing.

Judge vs. Professor Oak’s New Theory

During the time period, Judge saw a decent amount of play while PONT saw relatively little. I find Judge to be better in decks that have a disruption element to them like Gardevoir or CurseGar. I also like Judge in decks that need to make their opponent miss a step to get back in the game. For example, against Gyarados, plays like Stadium/Judge/KO Gyarados forcing them to have the Magikarp/BTS/Gyarados to respond.

PONT is better in decks that generally win if they get set up and have little disruption. The other scenario is PONT is better in decks that need to hit crucial cards to swing matchups like DCE, Expert Belt, etc. while having little disruption.

Generally Judge is the better card against the format, but PONT can be stronger against decks that play a lot of disruption.

Judge vs. Looker’s Investigation

A lot of control decks of the time would play a combination of Judge and Looker’s. In my general testing (both then and now), Looker’s is subpar to Judge in almost every way. Looker’s tries to do everything, but then succeeds at doing nothing well. A new hand of 5 cards really isn’t enough for consistency, but awkwardly giving your opponent a new hand of 5 really isn’t few enough cards to establish control. Typically, before you play a shuffle-and-draw Supporter, you’re going to play all of the useful cards in your hand. This creates these awkward situations where your opponent’s hand is good enough you want to force them to send it back, but your hand is weak enough you want to draw a new one yourself.

Judge hits both sides of this dilemma, disrupting your opponent’s hand while also giving you a new one at the same time. The only real advantage Looker’s has is that you can look at your opponent’s hand and see if it’s good/bad. However, I feel like most good players are going to be able to make this read on their own.

Expert Belt

I think Expert Belt is the most overpowered card in the 2010 format, but also the least recognized as such. When you play a format that has a large control element to it, Prizes start mattering less, and more dominant board position matters more. There are just so many different decks that rely on either the extra Hit Points or the extra damage to deal with certain matchups.

Most of the decks at the time only played 2 copies of the card, but in my testing I’ve found 3 copies to be much better in nearly everything. The decks that play the card rely so heavily on it that they need to be able to find it early and find it often.

Night Maintenance vs. Palmer’s Contribution

Which one is better depends on what deck you’re playing. In general, Night Maintenance is usually the better choice since it doesn’t take your Supporter for a turn. A common situation would be to use Night Maintenance and then say a Bebe’s Search to grab the Pokémon you just put back in.

The advantages of Palmer’s Contribution is that you get to put 5 cards back instead of just 3 cards. Some decks can make the argument to play 1 Palmer’s over 2 Night Maintenance for deck space. It’s also worth noting that Palmer’s is searchable via Cyrus, useful for Gardevoir SW to Telepass, and reusable via VS Seeker.

Spiritomb AR

Playing Spiritomb is an absolute must for any Evolution decks. A searchable Basic being able to set up while Item-locking the opponent added a lot of consistency. The free attack meant that you could attach an Energy to retreat your Active to Spiritomb and still be able to attack.

Numbers of Spiritombs varied greatly by deck and space:

  • Decks like CurseGar that relied on the Item lock as part of their strategy would normally play a full 4 copies.
  • Evolution decks would typically play 3 copies simply due to space constraints.
  • Decks that played 2 copies were usually somewhere in-between aggressive Evolution decks that wanted to attack early, but could find themselves playing a more passive gameplan.
  • Highly aggressive decks like Jumpluff or Kingdra that play multiple BTS and Rare Candy typically play 1 Spiritomb. The reasoning behind this is they are incredibly weak to opposing Spiritombs. If the opponent opens Tomb, it gives them a searchable answer to set up on their side as well. (I stole this from Ryan Vergel and his crew who started playing this in Jumpluff all the way back at Regionals.)

In most of my decks and lists that play Spiritomb, I’d love to play 4 copies, but can rarely find the room or space to do so.

2-2 vs. 3-1 Garchomp C LV.X

The 3-1 Garchomp is without a doubt the correct play in decks that put a huge emphasis on Garchomp C LV.X, like LuxChomp. Decks that use Garchomp as less of a priority attacker, like Sablelock or DialgaChomp, can have some more discussion around it. You can also have some discussion if you expect to play against literally zero SP decks.

However, you lose close to 20% equity in any SP matchup where your opponent plays 3-1 and you don’t. I can’t even begin to describe how heavily it swings the mirror in favor of the player who plays 3-1.

This seems to be a very large debate in the community and I don’t understand why.

Pokémon Communication vs. Luxury Ball

If you have a high Pokémon count (above 20) and play 1 or more LV.X Pokémon in your deck, then in nearly every situation Pokémon Communication is going to be better than Luxury Ball. I also find Pokémon Communication useful in failing a search so I can Claydol/Uxie for more cards.

I don’t understand why every deck feels like they have to play a single copy of Luxury Ball. Outside of decks that play incredibly low Pokémon counts or decks that don’t play LV.X Pokémon, Pokémon Communication is just superior.

Sableye SF/Garchomp C LV.X (Sablelock)

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Sablelock was one of the most mysterious decks of the 2010 format. It came on the radar of people after Aaron Curry and Stephen Silvestro piloted the deck to 1st and 3rd place finishes respectively at Florida States. When the current World Champion has that kind of finish in one of the most difficult states in the US, people seem to take note.

Con Le won US Nationals with the deck, and Alex Frezza finished in the Top 16 with an almost identical list only losing to Con. At the time, most of the lists that were floating around online were horrible and most players had no idea what a good Sableye list looked like…until Pokémon decided to get involved.

In one of the most bizarre moves from the company, on the official website they released three lists after US Nationals. They didn’t name the players they just said, “Hey, these are good decks that did well at Nationals.” It didn’t require the Scooby-Doo gang to figure out which lists belonged to whom.

At the time, a lot of players getting ready for Worlds were upset the lists got released. Obviously, good Sablelock players were upset that everybody knew what a good list looked like, and other players were upset because the number of Sablelock decks at Worlds was expected to go up.

The whole thing was just weird because they only released three decks from the event total. It wasn’t like all Top 4 decks from each division or something more fair to the players. They also gave zero credit to the players and deck builders for the deck. So it was kind of like, “We’ll post your deck, but not give you credit, but everybody knows whose deck it is anyway.” Once again, the whole thing was weird, but I digress.

Let’s take a look at what the mysterious Sablelock deck looks like.

Decklist

Pokémon (21)

2 Garchomp C

2 Garchomp C LV.X

2 Uxie LA

1 Uxie LV.X

1 Murkrow SW

1 Honchkrow SV

4 Sableye SF

2 Crobat G

1 Azelf LA

1 Chatot G

1 Dragonite FB

1 Honchkrow G

1 Toxicroak G DP41

1 Unown Q MD

Trainer (28)

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy

2 Cyrus’s Initiative

2 Judge

2 Pokémon Collector

1 Aaron’s Collection

1 Bebe’s Search

1 Felicity’s Drawing

 

4 Poké Turn

4 Power Spray

2 Pokémon Communication

1 SP Radar

1 VS Seeker

 

3 Energy Gain

Energy (11)

4 Special D

4 Double Colorless

2 D

1 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 21

* 2 Garchomp C SV 60
* 2 Garchomp C LV.X SV 145
* 2 Uxie LA 43
* 1 Uxie LV.X LA 146
* 1 Murkrow SW 95
* 1 Honchkrow SV 29
* 4 Sableye SF 48
* 2 Crobat G PL 47
* 1 Azelf LA 19
* 1 Chatot G PL 47
* 1 Dragonite FB SV 56
* 1 Honchkrow G PL 77
* 1 Toxicroak G PR-DP DP41
* 1 Unown Q MD 49

##Trainer Cards - 28

* 4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy PL 105
* 4 Poké Turn PL 118
* 4 Power Spray PL 117
* 3 Energy Gain PL 116
* 2 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 2 Judge
* 2 Cyrus’s Initiative SV 137
* 2 Pokémon Communication
* 1 Bebe’s Search RR 89
* 1 SP Radar RR 96
* 1 Aaron’s Collection RR 88
* 1 Felicity’s Drawing GE 98
* 1 VS Seeker

##Energy - 11

* 4 Double Colorless Energy
* 4 Special D
* 2 D Energy HS 121
* 1 P Energy HS 119

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81361 ******

Strategy

The idea behind the deck is to disrupt the opponent from ever being able to fully set up. You do this by controlling their hand, field, topdecks, and ability to use Poké-Powers.

Playing 4 Sableye SF, 4 Special D Energy, and 2 Crobat G, the deck has a lot of opportunities to either donk the opponent or take a turn 1 knockout. If the donk or turn 1 knockout are not available, you’re going to want to use Sableye to Impersonate a Cyrus’s Initiative and start trying to control the hand. Typically in this format a lot of decks don’t play “shuffle and draw” Supporters, so if you’re able to strip them of setup cards, and control Uxie/Claydol with Power Spray/Garchomp C LV.X, they will have a hard time getting out of it. To further ensure they never draw anything, the deck plays Chatot G.

Strengths

  • I always like decks that have the ability to donk the opponent but have a solid game plan if that doesn’t happen.
  • It also has a lot of control elements (which I personally find fun to play) that can stop decks from setting up.

Weakness

  • The deck is incredibly strong the first three turns of the game. However, if you don’t have solid footing in the game by this point, it can start snowballing out of control very quickly. The deck doesn’t play the same tools to trade KOs as LuxChomp does.
  • The deck also loses a lot of power if it doesn’t open Sableye.

Card Choices

2-2 Garchomp C LV.X

It’s pretty debatable in this deck if 2-2 or 3-1 is better. I lean only slightly toward the 2-2 because you have more control over the game than your standard SP deck, allowing you a better chance to get the first Garchomp snipe off.

1-1 Honchkrow SV

Con often referred to the card as “Big Daddy Honchkrow” compared to Honchkrow G. It was useful as a Mewtwo LV.X counter or in matchups where you need to push over tankier cards like Dialga G. It’s also good to clog your opponent’s Bench with dead cards like Spiritomb AR.

1 Chatot G

You saw this come in and out of Sablelock-style decks. It could be very useful, but since “shuffle and draw” Supporters were not very common, it was hard for a single topdeck (that couldn’t be countered with Power Spray) to get your opponent back in the game.

1 Unown Q MD

So you don’t have to pay the Retreat Cost of either Sableye or Uxie LV.X.

2 Pokémon Collector

Playing the lower count was due to the high likelihood you would Impersonate one at the start of the game. After the first Collector, its usefulness starts to fall off.

1 Felicity’s Drawing

Straight draw is never bad combined with having a lot of dead cards in the hand you would want to get rid of before late-game Judges.

1 VS Seeker

You play a wide range of Supporters giving VS Seeker more utility.

General Notes

Dialga G LV.X/Garchomp C LV.X (DialgaChomp)

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If LuxChomp was the yin, then DialgaChomp would be the yang. Both decks played a very similar SP engine, but their core strategies were very different. LuxChomp was a highly aggressive deck that looked to take fast Prizes and control the opponent’s setup. DialgaChomp on the other hand was a slower deck that would grind games out. It relied heavily on Deafen to stop Items/Stadiums and Special M Energy to make Dialga a tank.

It’s worth noting that while LuxChomp had a lot of hype around it, there was almost no talk about Dialga. During Cities of the 2010 format, Kyle “Pooka” Sucevich invented the deck and then won a Cities. Typically when a player of Kyle’s caliber brings a rogue deck and wins an event with it, people take notice. For the next several weeks the internet was abuzz about this Dialga G LV.X/Garchomp C LV.X deck that Kyle had played, and everybody was desperate for information. The deck became Kyle’s signature deck for as long as it was legal.

This is the list that he played to a 3rd place finish at the 2010 US National Championships.

Kyle’s DialgaChomp

Pokémon (18)

2 Garchomp C

2 Garchomp C LV.X

2 Dialga G

1 Dialga G LV.X

1 Baltoy GE

1 Claydol GE

1 Ambipom G

1 Azelf LA

1 Bronzong G

1 Chatot MD

1 Crobat G

1 Drifblim FB

1 Toxicroak G DP41

1 Unown G GE

1 Uxie LA

Trainer (27)

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy

2 Bebe’s Search

2 Pokémon Collector

2 Roseanne’s Research

1 Aaron’s Collection

 

4 Poké Turn

3 Power Spray

2 Pokémon Communication

2 SP Radar

1 Night Maintenance

 

3 Energy Gain

1 Expert Belt

Energy (15)

4 Double Colorless

4 Special M

3 Call

2 P

1 M

1 Warp

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 18

* 2 Garchomp C SV 60
* 2 Garchomp C LV.X SV 145
* 2 Dialga G PL 7
* 1 Dialga G LV.X PL 122
* 1 Baltoy GE 60
* 1 Claydol GE 15
* 1 Ambipom G RR 56
* 1 Azelf LA 19
* 1 Bronzong G PL 41
* 1 Chatot MD 55
* 1 Crobat G PL 47
* 1 Drifblim FB SV 3
* 1 Toxicroak G PR-DP DP41
* 1 Unown G GE 57
* 1 Uxie LA 43

##Trainer Cards - 27

* 4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy PL 105
* 4 Poké Turn PL 118
* 3 Energy Gain PL 116
* 3 Power Spray PL 117
* 2 SP Radar RR 96
* 2 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 2 Roseanne’s Research SW 125
* 2 Bebe’s Search RR 89
* 2 Pokémon Communication
* 1 Aaron’s Collection RR 88
* 1 Night Maintenance SW 120
* 1 Expert Belt AR 87

##Energy - 15

* 4 Double Colorless Energy 102
* 4 Special M
* 3 Call Energy MD 92
* 2 P Energy HS 119
* 1 M Energy HS 122
* 1 Warp Energy SF 95

Total Cards - 60

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Strategy

The deck’s game plan would adapt to how the opponent played the game. The first main strategy was to use Deafen along with an Expert Belt to limit the opponent’s options. While the second strategy was to tank a Dialga G with Special M Energy to make it harder to Knock Out.

If the opponent was getting close to being able to Knock Out the Dialga, you had several options:

  1. The first was you could use Warp Energy to push the Dialga to the Bench promoting Garchomp, then level up to Garchomp C LV.X fully healing the Dialga. Follow this up by using Bronzong G to push the Warp Energy to Garchomp C LV.X before using a Poké Turn to pick it back up. You can rinse and repeat this combo as needed.
  2. The other thing you could do is use Bronzong G to push a Special M Energy to a Benched Dialga G and then use Poké Turn on the Active. Promote the Benched Dialga G, Level Up, and attach a Special M Energy you put back into your hand.

The latter is not as effective but easier to set up.

Strengths

  • The deck has a very high skill ceiling allowing players who master the deck room to outplay their opponent. Matchups feel very even across the board.

Weaknesses

  • The deck and matchups are incredibly hard to play. It’s one of those decks where if you’re playing against an average DialgaChomp player the deck seems very weak, but if you’re playing against a top Dialga player the deck seems incredibly good.
  • The deck plays slower than your standard SP deck so it can struggle if the opponent gets fully set up. Also due to its slower nature, Machamp is a much harder matchup than for your standard SP deck.

Card Choices

2-2 Garchomp C LV.X

You will get a lot of discussion if 2-2 or 3-1 is the better split. The 2-2 is considerably weaker in the SP matchup. However, the deck cares less about trying to win the Garchomp trade than LuxChomp does. The deck cares a lot about healing the Dialga and the 2-2 split plays more in that direction.

It’s also worth noting that cards that play well in the 3-1 split, like Premier Ball, have less utility in DialgaChomp than they do in LuxChomp.

1 Toxicroak G DP41

Playing a single copy of Toxicroak G became a staple in SP due to its ability to counter Luxray GL LV.X. Luxray in particular was a problem for Dialga due to its M Resistance. Toxicroak G was also just a great attacker in general and being a Fighting type helped it match up well with a lot of cards at the time.

1 Drifblim FB

What makes Drifblim FB special is that it hits the Bench for Weakness. This means that you can Knock Out pixies on the Bench with the help of Crobat G. It also gets incredibly tanky in the later part of the game. Ideally you will be able to take 2 or 3 Prizes with it before it gets Knocked Out. You can also use its snipe attack to help set up knockouts for Garchomp C LV.X or Dialga.

1-1 Claydol GE

I’m honestly a little surprised that Kyle didn’t opt to play a 2-1 Uxie LV.X over the Claydol line. I believe he wanted the increased draw power to help hit the non-searchable cards like Special M Energy and Expert Belt.

1 Chatot G

Kyle played a copy of Chatot in literally every single deck while it was legal.

2 Pokémon Collector, 2 Roseanne’s Research

Each was situationally good, where ideally you would want to see Pokémon Collector in the early game and Roseanne’s Research in the mid or late game. You basically had 4 spots between the cards to divide them up. I would say 2-2 was the most common split, but you would see a 3-1 or even a 4-0 split as well.

2 Pokémon Communication, 2 Bebe’s Search, 2 SP Radar

There is a lot of room for personal preference in these splits. As long as you’re playing a single copy of Bebe’s and Radar to be searched out by Cyrus, the rest of the spots can be filled however you like.

15 Energy

The Energy lineup in DialgaChomp always gets to be really tricky because you’re forced to play 4 DCE, 4 Special M Energy, and 1 P Energy. Then when you include the “should play” Energy—1 basic M Energy, 1 or more Warp Energy, and Call Energy—you start to take up a lot of space. While playing high Energy counts is not always a bad thing, it does really eat into your space for other cards.

General Notes

Remove Lost is a really strong attack in SP matchups in particular. They usually play so few copies of each Energy type, that being able to remove them from the game helps to remove later threats.

Jay’s DialgaChomp

Now that I’ve talked about Kyle’s list for the deck, I want to talk about my Dialga list. After working on the deck I’ve come up with two different variations of the deck.

Pokémon (18)

3 Uxie LA

1 Uxie LV.X

2 Garchomp C

2 Garchomp C LV.X

2 Dialga G

1 Dialga G LV.X

1 Azelf LA

1 Bronzong G

1 Crobat G

1 Lucario GL

1 Skuntank G

1 Toxicroak G DP41

1 Unown Q MD

Trainer (30)

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy

3 Pokémon Collector

2 Bebe’s Search

1 Aaron’s Collection

1 Cynthia’s Feelings

1 Roseanne’s Research

 

4 Poké Turn

3 Power Spray

2 Pokémon Communication

1 Premier Ball

1 SP Radar

 

3 Energy Gain

2 Expert Belt

 

2 Snowpoint Temple

Energy (12)

4 Double Colorless

4 Special M

2 Warp

1 M

1 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 18

* 3 Uxie LA 43
* 1 Uxie LV.X LA 146
* 2 Garchomp C SV 60
* 2 Garchomp C LV.X SV 145
* 2 Dialga G PL 7
* 1 Dialga G LV.X PL 122
* 1 Azelf LA 19
* 1 Bronzong G PL 41
* 1 Crobat G PL 47
* 1 Lucario GL RR 8
* 1 Skuntank G PL 94
* 1 Toxicroak G PR-DP DP41
* 1 Unown Q MD 49

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy PL 105
* 4 Poké Turn PL 118
* 3 Energy Gain PL 116
* 3 Power Spray PL 117
* 3 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 2 Bebe’s Search RR 89
* 2 Pokémon Communication
* 2 Snowpoint Temple LA 134
* 2 Expert Belt AR 87
* 1 Roseanne’s Research SW 125
* 1 SP Radar RR 96
* 1 Aaron’s Collection RR 88
* 1 Premier Ball SF 91
* 1 Cynthia’s Feelings LA 131

##Energy - 12

* 4 Double Colorless Energy
* 4 Special M
* 2 Warp Energy SF 95
* 1 P Energy HS 119
* 1 M Energy HS 122

Total Cards - 60

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Strategy

The deck plays like your standard DialgaChomp. I feel Uxie LV.X is better than Claydol in this sort of deck. I also feel in this format that you need a way to be able to deal with Gardevoir. The 3-1 Uxie LV.X, 1 Lucario GL, 2 Expert Belt, and 2 Warp Energy make the matchup a lot better. You need the Warp Energy to bench Dialga G LV.X to shut off Azelf LV.X. Uxie LV.X + Lucario GL + Expert Belt is 160 damage to a Belted Gardevoir.

Card Choices

3-1 Uxie LV.X, 1 Unown Q MD

Uxie LV.X is much easier to set up and less of a liability to SP decks than Claydol. It also makes for a decent attacker against other SP decks or against Gardevoir.

I feel like Uxie LV.X and Unown Q have a lot of synergy, and the only reason Unown G was played was due to its synergy with protecting Claydol. Whatever you lose in the Machamp matchup by not playing Unown G is helped offset by playing Uxie LV.X.

That being said, if you are expecting a lot of Machamp then the Unown G is a good call. Dialga/Deafen + Unown G + Skuntank G give the deck a solid matchup against it.

1 Skuntank G, 2 Snowpoint Temple

As you see the format continue to develop and move away from being dominated by SP decks, the value of Skuntank G goes up dramatically. Deafen/Expert Belt is a major strength of the deck and Skuntank G plays well into this strategy. It also dramatically helps your Gyarados matchup.

There are quite a few good Stadiums in the format and you could make strong arguments to play something like Conductive Quarry or Pokémon Contest Hall. I opted to play Snowpoint Temple since there are fewer SP decks, and it would be less likely to give your opponent the benefit. It also helps to play into the “Tank and Deafen” strategy of the deck.

2 Expert Belt

Playing the second copy makes it easier to find it when you need it. I do feel like it’s a spot where you could test an additional consistency card like Pokémon Collector, Roseanne’s Research, or SP Radar.

1 Night Maintenance

I’m generally not a fan of playing Night Maintenance in SP decks. It’s not searchable and an instant benefit of something like Aaron’s Collection usually plays better. Situations where you want to get back say Blaziken FB, Blaziken FB LV.X, and a R Energy or Uxie and Uxie LV.X will come into play.

1 Cynthia’s Feelings

Usually I’m more of a fan of cards like Judge or PONT in SP decks, but Dialga has so many cards that are not searchable like Expert Belt, Warp Energy, and Special M Energy that I like the ability to draw extra cards.

Techs

Relicanth SV, Pokémon Contest Hall

I think Relicanth is one of the most underrated cards in the format. There are just so many situations where you’ll almost Knock a Pokémon Out and then your opponent gets it back to their Bench. As long as the opponent has at least 1 Pokémon Tool in play, it’s a strong counter to Luxray GL LV.X.

Pokémon Contest Hall is obviously good to search out Basics and your Energy Gains/Expert Belts. While it can also be good for your opponent as well, the Relicanth makes it so you can almost bait them into getting multiple Tools in play.

DialgaChomp + Blaziken FB LV.X

Pokémon (18)

2 Garchomp C

2 Garchomp C LV.X

2 Dialga G

1 Dialga G LV.X

2 Uxie LA

1 Uxie LV.X

1 Blaziken FB

1 Blaziken FB LV.X

1 Azelf LA

1 Bronzong G

1 Crobat G

1 Skuntank G

1 Toxicroak G DP41

1 Unown Q MD

Trainer (30)

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy

3 Pokémon Collector

2 Bebe’s Search

1 Aaron’s Collection

1 Cynthia’s Feelings

1 Roseanne’s Research

 

4 Poké Turn

3 Power Spray

2 Pokémon Communication

1 Night Maintenance

1 SP Radar

 

3 Energy Gain

2 Expert Belt

 

2 Snowpoint Temple

Energy (12)

4 Double Colorless

4 Special M

1 R

1 M

1 P

1 Warp

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 18

* 2 Garchomp C SV 60
* 2 Garchomp C LV.X SV 145
* 2 Dialga G PL 7
* 1 Dialga G LV.X PL 122
* 2 Uxie LA 43
* 1 Uxie LV.X LA 146
* 1 Blaziken FB SV 2
* 1 Blaziken FB LV.X SV 142
* 1 Azelf LA 19
* 1 Bronzong G PL 41
* 1 Crobat G PL 47
* 1 Skuntank G PL 94
* 1 Toxicroak G PR-DP DP41
* 1 Unown Q MD 49

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy PL 105
* 4 Poké Turn PL 118
* 3 Energy Gain PL 116
* 3 Power Spray PL 117
* 3 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 2 Bebe’s Search RR 89
* 2 Pokémon Communication
* 2 Snowpoint Temple LA 134
* 2 Expert Belt AR 87
* 1 Roseanne’s Research SW 125
* 1 SP Radar RR 96
* 1 Aaron’s Collection RR 88
* 1 Night Maintenance SW 120
* 1 Cynthia’s Feelings LA 131

##Energy - 12

* 4 Double Colorless Energy
* 4 Special M
* 1 P Energy HS 119
* 1 M Energy HS 122
* 1 R Energy HS 116
* 1 Warp Energy SF 95

Total Cards - 60

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The deck plays very similar to your standard DialgaChomp, but it has the additional option of Blaziken FB LV.X. I think Blaziken FB LV.X is incredibly strong right now, matching well against many of the top decks of the format. The thin lines play fine but require careful thinking and resource management.

Techs

More Uxie LV.X Emphasis

You can play something similar to LuxChomp where you’re playing a 3-1 Uxie LV.X and/or higher counts in Pokémon Communication with Premier Ball. This is less needed in DialgaChomp, but it does improve your Machamp matchup.

Jumpluff

Jumpluff is one of those decks where you never really feel comfortable playing it, but you never really want to be sitting across the table from it either. Hoppip HS has only 30 HP, and opening a lone copy against SP is probably game over. This is still a sore spot for me as I ended a 12-hour Regionals run in Top 8 by flipping over my lone Hoppip to Luxray/DCE in Game 3. Gino Lombardi lost in the Top 8 of Nationals this year by getting donked by Pooka in one of their games. It’s just the trade off you make for playing the deck.

However, despite Jumpluff’s (and its pre-evolved forms’) low HP, it’s also incredibly strong. It’s able to dish out major damage for only a single Energy. Sitting across from a Jumpluff player as they are “going off” is terrifying.

Decklist

Pokémon (25)

4 Hoppip HS

2 Skiploom HS

4 Jumpluff HS

3 Baltoy GE

3 Claydol GE

1 Luxray GL

1 Luxray GL LV.X

2 Crobat G

2 Uxie LA

1 Azelf LA

1 Spiritomb AR

1 Unown Q MD

Trainer (29)

3 Roseanne’s Research

2 Bebe’s Search

2 Pokémon Collector

1 Judge

 

4 Poké Turn

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Rare Candy

3 Warp Point

1 Luxury Ball

1 Night Maintenance

 

1 Expert Belt

 

3 Broken Time-Space

Energy (6)

4 G

2 Multi

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 25

* 4 Hoppip HS 67
* 2 Skiploom HS 51
* 4 Jumpluff HS 6
* 3 Baltoy GE 60
* 3 Claydol GE 15
* 1 Luxray GL RR 9
* 1 Luxray GL LV.X RR 109
* 2 Crobat G PL 47
* 2 Uxie LA 43
* 1 Azelf LA 19
* 1 Spiritomb AR 32
* 1 Unown Q MD 49

##Trainer Cards - 29

* 4 Pokémon Communication
* 4 Poké Turn PL 118
* 4 Rare Candy
* 3 Broken Time-Space PL 104
* 3 Roseanne’s Research SW 125
* 2 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 2 Bebe’s Search RR 89
* 3 Warp Point MD 88
* 1 Judge
* 1 Luxury Ball SF 86
* 1 Expert Belt AR 87
* 1 Night Maintenance SW 120

##Energy - 6

* 4 G Energy HS 115
* 2 Multi Energy MT 118

Total Cards - 60

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Strategy

The general idea of the deck is to fill your Bench and speed out Jumpluff as soon as possible, having a new one ready as soon as one falls. The deck does an incredibly good job at trading Prizes by the opponent. Eventually you will speed out attackers faster with less investment than the opponent, causing them to miss turns in the Prize trade.

The deck plays a strong SP core to have a “Gust of Wind” effect through Luxray GL LV.X, and it’s able to hit key numbers thanks to Crobat G, Expert Belt, and Poké Turn.

Strengths

  • The deck has high damage output and is able to “self replace” attackers with ease.
  • It also plays the “turbo engine” with a thick Claydol line, Broken Time-Space, and a lot of search cards. If your opponent isn’t Item locking you at the start of the game, it’s very easy to “go off.”

Weakness

  • Many of the deck’s Pokémon are very low in Hit Points and it can easily fall behind in attackers. If it falls too far behind, the opponent will be able to race it to 6 Prizes before being overwhelmed.
  • The deck also plays a heavy Item-based Trainer lineup to speed out Jumpluff and stay ahead of other decks. This can make it very vulnerable to Spiritomb AR or Dialga G. There is a fine line in building Jumpluff between speed and not just scooping the game if the opponent opens one of the former.

Card Choices

1 Spiritomb AR

The one copy of Spiritomb was just so you had an out if your opponent opened up with their own Spiritomb or if a Dialga player tried to Deafen lock you.

Similar line of thinking to Spiritomb in needing an out to Item lock. It also increased your overall number of Pokémon search cards to 7 total.

You can play around with this number depending on how much Item lock you are expecting to see.

3 Warp Point

A common strategy that SP decks use is to drag up the Claydol and then snipe around it with Garchomp C LV.X. Playing a high Warp Point count is essential to avoid this from happening.

Warp Point can also be used as a way to take a cheap knockout in a Prize rush situation. Generally speaking, 1 Warp Point should be valued at 1 Prize card.

1 Judge

I like to play at least one copy of Judge in decks where you may fall behind early, but have a strong late game. I also like it in decks where you have the opportunity to Knock Out Claydol. These are both very common scenarios you’ll find yourself in while playing Jumpluff.

1 Expert Belt

Typically you want to play Jumpluff as a glass-cannon single-Prize attacker that simply replaces itself. However, the deck plays a single copy of Expert Belt to help hit key numbers in a pinch.

1 Night Maintenance

The single copy may seem weird in a deck like this, but the idea is if you have to force your opponent through 5 Jumpluffs, you stand a good chance of winning the game. You’ll probably have to give up at least a single Prize somewhere else in the game or with an Expert Belt.

Techs

4 Crobat G

One of the most successful Jumpluff players at the start of the season was Dustin Zimmerman. Originally I kind of scoffed at the idea when he told me he played 4 Crobat G in his States and Regionals list (I believe he won 1 or 2 States and maybe the Regionals with the deck). However, the more I think about it now, this may be the correct way to play the deck. It’s not that you need 4 Crobat G, rather you absolutely do not want to open with a lone Hoppip. At the time, I found the SP matchup to be favorable as long as I didn’t get donked. The 4 Crobat G greatly increased your odds of opening with a lone Hoppip.

2 Cyrus’s Conspiracy, 1 Energy Gain

This is a similar line of thinking to the Stephen Silvestro’s line of play for his 2009 Beedrill deck. Luxray goes from a Bench-sitter to a legitimate attacker with an easy-to-find Energy Gain.

There would be other changes you’d have to consider, such as bumping up the Luxray line and adjusting the Energy line to 4 Multi and perhaps 1 Lightning. While all of this seems really solid, it would pull away from the core concept of the deck, which is speeding out Jumpluffs.

Kingdra Prime

It’s a solid backup attacker, and the ability to place damage counters synergizes incredibly well with Jumpluff. The two biggest issues are the space it takes up and how it suffers from a lot of the same weaknesses with Item lock. Crobat G is a one-time effect, but it is much easier to set up and the SP package plays very well in the deck.

AMU Lock (Azelf MT, Mesprit LA, Uxie LA)

The SP matchup can be challenging for the deck if they get off to a quick start. Mesprit LA and Uxie LA are both strong on their own. Mesprit LA was an easy inclusion into the deck to buy you a turn and improve the SP matchup. I was generally not a fan of the tech because of how tight your Bench space is in the deck. This was a John Kettler tech.

Blaziken FB

Once again, this was something John Kettler played for a while in Jumpluff to give the deck some disruption. Nobody saw the tech coming, and dragging up a Claydol or other heavy retreat Pokémon could get you out of Spiritomb lock and slow the opponent down.

4th Warp Point

Increases your odds of hitting it when needed.

Sableye SF/Garchomp C LV.X/Blaziken FB LV.X (Chenlock)

ebay.com

The list and strategy play out very similar to that of Sablelock with the addition of Blaziken FB giving the deck additional disruption along with some brute strength. The original concept was designed by Jason Chen who finished in the Top 32 at US Nationals in 2010. The deck was also played to a Top 32 Worlds finish by Aziz Al-Yami; some may know him better as the Super Smash Bros. player Hax$.

This is my own variation of the deck. My list puts a high emphasis on Uxie LV.X for both consistency and an attacker if needed.

Decklist

Pokémon (19)

3 Garchomp C

1 Garchomp C LV.X

2 Blaziken FB

1 Blaziken FB LV.X

2 Uxie LA

1 Uxie LV.X

4 Sableye SF

1 Ambipom G

1 Azelf LA

1 Crobat G

1 Toxicroak G DP41

1 Unown Q MD

Trainer (31)

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy

2 Cyrus’s Initiative

2 Judge

2 Pokémon Collector

1 Aaron’s Collection

1 Bebe’s Search

1 Felicity’s Drawing

 

4 Poké Turn

4 Power Spray

2 Pokémon Communication

2 Premier Ball

2 SP Radar

1 VS Seeker

 

3 Energy Gain

Energy (10)

4 Double Colorless

4 R

1 D

1 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 19

* 3 Garchomp C SV 60
* 1 Garchomp C LV.X SV 145
* 2 Blaziken FB SV 2
* 1 Blaziken FB LV.X SV 142
* 2 Uxie LA 43
* 1 Uxie LV.X LA 146
* 4 Sableye SF 48
* 1 Ambipom G RR 56
* 1 Azelf LA 19
* 1 Crobat G PL 47
* 1 Toxicroak G PR-DP DP41
* 1 Unown Q MD 49

##Trainer Cards - 31

* 4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy PL 105
* 4 Poké Turn PL 118
* 4 Power Spray PL 117
* 3 Energy Gain PL 116
* 2 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 2 Cyrus’s Initiative SV 137
* 2 Pokémon Communication
* 2 Premier Ball SF 91
* 2 SP Radar RR 96
* 2 Judge
* 1 VS Seeker
* 1 Felicity’s Drawing GE 98
* 1 Aaron’s Collection RR 88
* 1 Bebe’s Search RR 89

##Energy - 10

* 4 Double Colorless Energy
* 4 R Energy HS 116
* 1 P Energy HS 119
* 1 D Energy HS 121

Total Cards - 60

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Strategy

The general idea is to control the game from the start similar to Sablelock. You play the heavy Sableye count along with Cyrus’s Initiative to limit your opponent’s option before they even have a turn. However, this is also where the decks start to deviate from each other.

Sablelock plays a strong chance to donk low-HP Basics with 4 Special D Energy and 2 Crobat G. This variation gives up some early strength in the first couple of turns to have a much stronger mid-game with Blaziken FB LV.X. It also has some more disruption with Blaziken FB and Alluring Flame. I’d say both decks have a weak late game, but the concept is never let the game get that far.

Note: Playing a strong Fire attacker can give you favorable matchups that the original Sablelock struggled against like Steelix Prime and Flygon/Torterra.

Strengths

  • The deck has the same control elements and the ability to take cheap Prizes like your normal Sablelock deck with more disruption and better matchups against decks that have main attackers weak to Fire.

Weakness

  • If the opponent is able to set up, the deck can struggle to close out games. The Blaziken FB LV.X does offer a solid attacker and helps to offset the deck’s low damage output, but it won’t be enough to run through an opponent.

Card Choices

3-1 Garchomp C LV.X

Adding Blaziken FB LV.X as another LV.X in the deck made the decision to go X-1 on the Basic/X counts much easier. I think Premier Ball is incredibly strong in this sort of deck, and with the larger range of attackers over your standard Sablelock, it gives the card more utility.

2-1 Blaziken FB LV.X

I never found the 2nd Blaziken FB LV.X worth it. It always felt better to me to play the 2-1 line and then drop the 2nd LV.X for a Premier Ball to have more utility.

1 Ambipom G

You have 1 spot to go Ambipom G or Dragonite FB. I would say either is fine here, but I went with Ambipom G due to its added disruption. You can occasionally make some interesting plays with Blaziken FB and Tail Code.

Energy Lineup

The Energy lineup plays well for this variation of the deck. You don’t feel the same raw strength of playing Special D Energy, but in the mid to late stages of the game, it’s nice that you’re not out of basic Energy to grab with Cyrus’s Conspiracy.

Techs

Chatot G

I always feel like Chatot G is the 61st card in a lot of Sablelock lists. The Blaziken variation of the deck just runs tighter on space.

Steelix Prime

One of the interesting rogue decks that came out of Worlds that year was a Steelix Prime deck piloted by Erik Nance. In my opinion, to this day it’s still one of the best rogue decks ever built. If Erik hadn’t hit the one deck in the entire Top 32 teching a Fire attacker, he would most likely have won Worlds that year.

I think the thing that impressed me the most about the deck is that most of the cards in it were considered garbage. I believe I sat a table over from Erik when he played against Yamato in the 3rd round of the event. I remember looking over at their game and seeing Life Herb, Moomoo Milk, and Steelix Prime (which was a $1 binder card) and thinking to myself “What the heck is he playing?” However, I had never seen Yamato lose a game of Pokémon that handily before.

Pokémon (13)

4 Onix DP

3 Steelix Prime

2 Chansey HS

2 Blissey PL

2 Uxie LA

Trainer (33)

4 Engineer’s Adjustments

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory

3 Copycat

3 Judge

 

4 Life Herb

4 Moomoo Milk

4 Pokémon Communication

3 PlusPower

1 Luxury Ball

 

3 Expert Belt

Energy (14)

4 Call

4 Double Colorless

4 Special M

2 M

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 13

* 4 Onix DP 92
* 3 Steelix Prime
* 2 Chansey HS 58
* 2 Blissey PL 22
* 2 Uxie LA 43

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 4 Professor Oak's New Theory HS 101
* 4 Engineer’s Adjustments UL 75
* 4 Life Herb UL 79
* 4 Moomoo Milk HS 94
* 4 Pokémon Communication
* 3 Judge
* 3 Copycat
* 3 PlusPower UL 80
* 3 Expert Belt AR 87
* 1 Luxury Ball SF 86

##Energy - 14

* 4 Call Energy MD 92
* 4 Double Colorless Energy
* 4 Special M
* 2 M Energy HS 122

Total Cards - 60

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Conceptually the deck is the same as Erik’s, but I made a few changes in the card counts. I was not a huge fan of Pachirisu GE. I would much rather punch over a problem Pokémon than try and simply remove Tools. Erik also had a huge surprise element on his side; players now will see the Pachy coming.

Erik also included a lot of discarding Supporters to help get Energy in the discard pile. I agree this is an important aspect of the deck; however, I commonly find myself in situations with Volkner’s Philosophy where I’m just not drawing enough cards. Copycat will most likely net you more cards with the only downside being it doesn’t offer a discard opportunity.

At the bottom of the article I’ll link to Erik’s tournament report. I remember reading a really in-depth blog-style article he did covering how he came up with the deck and the overall list. I looked all over for it, but wasn’t able to find it. I’ll do my best to do the deck justice. [Editor’s Note: I was able to find the aforementioned blog-style article and have linked to it above.]

Strategy

The main strategy of the deck is just to tank a Steelix Prime. Between playing Special M Energy, Blissey Prime, and then cards like Life Herb and Moomoo Milk, the deck can heal a ton of damage each turn. The deck very easily dishes out 100 damage a turn, and with the tank/healing behind it aims to just steamroll the opponent. It can play a very fast aggressive game or a slower control game. It’s very important to keep the 6-Prize game in mind. Your opponent can take 5 Prizes as long as you don’t let them take 6.

Strengths

  • Requires very little setup and is incredibly tanky.
  • Other than a strong Fire attacker or a Gallade SW (just one time), nothing will be able to 1HKO a Steelix Prime. Your opponent basically has to just keep ramming into the Steelix to try and run you out of healing cards.
  • The deck also plays very well under a lot of the control elements in the format like Item lock, Power Lock, or hand disruption.

Weaknesses

  • The most obvious answer is a strong Fire attacker such as Infernape E4 LV.X or Blaziken FB LV.X.
  • The deck runs through resources quickly, between playing healing cards and all of its discards. In a long drawn-out game, decking out can be a real threat.
  • The opponent repeatedly dragging up Blissey can become a viable threat if you burn through their Double Colorless Energy.

Card Choices

4-3 Steelix Prime

Unintentionally, Steelix as a card did a lot of things right to have it match up well against the meta. It’s tanky, can use Special M Energy, and has an Energy acceleration attack.

I like to play Onix DP because for a DCE, it hits for a straight 20 damage. This number can be modified with Expert Belt and PlusPower. I can also see an argument for Onix SF which can reduce damage down to it by 40. If you open with a bad hand or need to stall for a couple of turns, the -40 damage can keep you alive.

Onix UL 56 is also one to consider since it can add minor healing to the deck to help over the course of the game.

I think it’s actually really cool that the deck has three different forms of Onix that are all viable to be played.

2-2 Blissey PL

It’s only in the deck as a Bench-sitter for the healing Poké-Power. It’s useful to discard dead cards before late-game Judges, and its first attack, Return, can be used in a pinch to draw cards.

It should also be noted that Chansey can 1HKO a Garchomp C and with a Belt can 1HKO a Garchomp C LV.X.

2 Uxie LA

With only a single retreat, Uxie is an okay starter, can take advantage of the high PlusPower and Expert Belt counts, and adds more consistency to the deck.

3 Judge

Once the deck gets going it requires very little additional setup. Outside of a 2nd Steelix, you’re only looking for healing cards. The deck also does a great job of thinning itself out so drawing only 4 cards doesn’t feel as bad.

3 PlusPower

Helps hit good math against Gyarados, Garchomp C, Gardevoir, and Luxray GL LV.X. Erik noted something the deck was struggling with in particular was Luxray GL LV.X backed by Garchomp C LV.X healing. Even a Belted Steelix Prime was 10 damage shy from the 1HKO. PlusPower gave the deck that last 10 damage.

Energy Lineup

The 14 Energy means you should be hitting your for-turn Energy attachment consistently and also finding Energy to discard to get back with Energy Stream.

Techs

3 Pachirisu GE

Call for Family is a great setup attack. However, Pachirisu is mainly played for its second attack to discard Energy Gains and Expert Belts. Even if it’s a dead card, it can just be discarded with Blissey.

Skuntank G, Stadiums

Erik ended up dropping this in favor of PlusPowers for the reasons I’ve mentioned above. However, it’s really strong against Gengar, allowing you to play around Fainting Spell.

2-1 Uxie LV.X

I could see the deck easily incorporated Uxie LV.X into the strategy. I opted not to play because I just don’t think it’s needed. Once you set up Steelix Prime you really don’t need to “search” for anything.

1–3 Warp Point

I find that LuxChomp plays will try to drag up Blissey and run you out of Energy to retreat it. Beyond that, Warp Point in general is just a solid card to play.

Luxury Ball Count

I think you could make a good argument for a higher Luxury Ball count and lower Pokémon Communication count in the deck. Similar to how the T1 Kingdra decks of 2008 played 2–3 Luxury Balls and then just discarded the extras after the first was played. Similar here with Blissey. Running 13 Pokémon is low and it wouldn’t be uncommon to not have one to pair with a Communication.

4th PlusPower

The card is incredibly strong in the deck and playing the additional copy increases your odds of seeing it.

Warp Energy

To help avoid the repeated dragging Blissey Active.

Kingdra/Donphan

A lot of different variations of Kingdra saw play at Nationals this year. The most popular variation was Kingdra Prime/Machamp Prime that looked to take advantage of Kingdra Prime’s strength against Stage 2 decks and Machamp Prime’s strength against Basic decks. However, the Kingdra deck that performed the best belonged to Kyle St. Charles who piloted a straight Kingdra deck teched with Donphan Prime and Dusknoir DP to a Top 4 finish.

Kyle’s list was close to perfect. The only change I made to the deck is playing a single copy of Spiritomb AR over a BTS. While you give up a slight bit of speed, it gives you a strong option if your opponent opens Spiritomb.

Pokémon (23)

4 Horsea LA

2 Seadra LA

3 Kingdra Prime

1 Kingdra LA

1 Duskull SF SH2

1 Dusknoir DP

3 Baltoy GE

3 Claydol GE

1 Phanpy HS

1 Donphan Prime

2 Uxie LA

1 Spiritomb AR

Trainer (30)

4 Bebe’s Search

4 Roseanne’s Research

2 Judge

1 Palmer’s Contribution

 

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Rare Candy

4 Warp Point

1 Luxury Ball

 

3 Expert Belt

 

3 Broken Time-Space

Energy (7)

4 Multi

2 W

1 F

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 23

* 4 Horsea LA 102
* 2 Seadra LA 70
* 3 Kingdra Prime
* 1 Kingdra LA 7
* 1 Duskull SF SH2
* 1 Dusknoir DP 2
* 3 Baltoy GE 60
* 3 Claydol GE 15
* 1 Phanpy HS 77
* 1 Donphan Prime
* 2 Uxie LA 43
* 1 Spiritomb AR 32

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 4 Bebe’s Search RR 89
* 4 Roseanne’s Research SW 125
* 4 Pokémon Communication
* 4 Rare Candy
* 4 Warp Point MD 88
* 3 Broken Time-Space PL 104
* 3 Expert Belt AR 87
* 2 Judge 87
* 1 Palmer’s Contribution SV 139
* 1 Luxury Ball SF 86

##Energy - 7

* 4 Multi Energy MT 118
* 2 W Energy HS 117
* 1 F Energy HS 120

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81361 ******

Kyle made some extremely smart choices in his list that put him a head of his time. He focused on the Kingdra line, only using Donphan as a tech against Luxray GL LV.X. He also got a lot of card counts right that people at the time weren’t making such as 3-1 Kingdra (Prime/LA), 4 Warp Point, and 3 Expert Belt.

Strategy

The deck plays very aggressively looking to get multiple Kingdras in play as quickly as possible. The early game you want to apply a lot of pressure to your opponent making it as difficult for them to set up as possible. Careful placing of damage counters in the early game becomes incredibly important to be able to close out the game. The deck has a lot of brute strength to be able to trade KOs in the mid game and enough ways to take cheap Prizes to steal a late game.

While setting up multiple Kingdras needs to be your top priority, look to use Dusknoir to disrupt your opponent. Donphan is in the deck to counter the very popular Luxray GL LV.X, which if left unchecked will give Kingdra a lot of issues.

Card Choices

3 Kingdra Prime, 1 Kingdra LA

Kingdra LA makes for a decent attacker, is great to discard dead cards, and isn’t weakened if the opponent has a Fire Pokémon in play. However, it doesn’t benefit from having multiple copies in play like Kingdra Prime. Unless you’re incredibly worried about Fire decks, I think you can make a strong argument to just go a full 4 Prime.

1-1 Donphan Prime

The main purpose is to counter Luxray GL LV.X, but it’s also a very strong attacker, that’s easy to set up, and can take a hit. You don’t want to rely on attacking with Donphan because the splash damage will add up quickly.

1-0-1 Dusknoir DP

Since the deck already plays 4 Rare Candy, it’s very easy to slide a 1-0-1 line in the deck. Dusknoir provides great disruption very generally but also can be used to soft counter Nidoqueen RR.

4 Warp Point

Playing 4 copies of Warp Point serves two purposes in the deck. The first, it’s a common strategy of LuxChomp to drag up the Claydol and snipe around it. The second, it gives the deck the ability to take cheap Prizes of Pokémon on the Bench.

Palmer’s Contribution vs. Night Maintenance

In most decks Night Maintenance is going to be better than Palmer’s. This deck prefers Palmer’s because it lets you return a full Kingdra line plus a full Donphan line. It’s also offset by the thick Claydol line, 4 Pokémon Communication, and 1 Luxury Ball. However, with careful Night Maintenance playing, you would be just fine.

Techs

4th Kingdra Prime

In most situations the Prime is better than Kingdra LA. The only disadvantage would be if the opponent had a Fire Pokémon.

1-1 Dialga G LV.X

Since you play 4 Warp Point, this is one of those Stage 2 decks where you could pretty easily fit in a wide variety of 1-1 techs. One of the largest challenges for a deck like this is Nidoqueen RR and its healing. Dialga G LV.X would shut this off, but the two most popular decks in the format that play Nidoqueen also commonly play Dusknoir. It would take incredibly careful Bench management to pull this off, but it would cover one of the deck’s biggest weaknesses.

2-2 Donphan Prime

Bumping up the line to 2-2 would help prevent bad Prizes.

1-1, 2-1, or 2-2 Mewtwo LV.X

This is another deck that you could very easily fit Mewtwo LV.X into. It would give the deck a strong attacker and an SP counter, but it wouldn’t be able to immediately deal with a Luxray GL LV.X like Donphan can.

SP Package

You could redesign the core of the deck to play 2 Crobat G, 1-1 Luxray GL LV.X, and 4 Poké Turn. However, this would start to pull away from the consistency of the deck in setting up multiple Kingdras.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this coverage of the 2010 format including its history, deck building, and playing. I wanted to take Part 2 of this article to finish covering a majority of the major decks at the time. I know there are a couple more major decks of the format that I still want to be able to cover.

I have a Part 3 planned that includes a lot of rogue decks that I’ve been working on. Beyond that I feel there is enough uncovered information in the format that I could write a Part 4, if there was enough interest. However, at this point I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself.

If anybody has any questions or would like a more in-depth answer on a topic, feel free to post it. I’ll make sure to watch the message boards and hopefully we can get a good discussion going.

Works Cited

Reader Interactions

4 replies

  1. Eddie

    Can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you’ve put into this series, Jay – your first article was what inspired me to get into 2010, and I still have the five decks you explored in Bright Looks and Psychic Locks proudly featured in my old format collection. Could you provide a little more insight into the DialgaChomp with vs. without Blaziken FB discussion? On paper, Blaziken seems sort of counterintuitive, since it’s a highly offensive card and one of your main objectives with DialgaChomp is to tank. Is it just for the Steelix and Torterra matchups, or are there other cases where it’s particularly useful? Would you consider the version with Blaziken better than the version without, or is it just a response to the current 2010 meta? I’ve been looking for an excuse to incorporate Blaziken into one of my 2010 lists, so I’d be thrilled if it’s now recognized as integral part of DialgaChomp, but I’m having trouble seeing what utility it offers that makes the space it occupies worth it.

    • Jay Hornung  → Eddie

      Thanks for the kind words Eddie. There isn’t any sort of deep synergy between Dialga and Blaziken other than Blaziken is very aggressive high damage for low energy while Dialga is slower/tankier.

      I just feel Blaziken in general is incredibly good in the format and can single handily swing match ups. Steelix, Torterra, and Dialga mirror are all much easier with Blaziken.

      Luring flames is also very good as i’ve noticed players are getting more laxed with running Unown G and lower Warp Point/Switch counts.

      As for which version is better is completely dependent on match up. If you and I were playing and you had Steelix then definitely Blaziken, if your playing Gardevoir on the other hand I would much rather play with no Blaziken.

      I also really wanted to convey how you can tech SP for different match ups. A lot of the straight dialga list is designed to play against nonSP decks. Skuntank and 2 SnowPoint would be much more dead cards in the SP match mirror.

      • Eddie  → Jay

        Thanks so much for the insight, Jay! That was more or less what I was thinking on the Blaziken front, but I was afraid I may have been missing something. I don’t know that I’ll be adding it to my DialgaChomp, but you’ve definitely convinced me to switch my Sablelock over to the Chenlock version in an effort to deemphasize donks while still preserving the lock archetype. Do you think your Chenlock list has any flex spots? I really hate to lose Chatot G, just because Disrupting Spy is such a powerful option if your first Initiative goes well and it’s super easy to grab with your first Conspiracy, but I agree that space is super tight. Looking at the lists of the time, the Felicity’s and the fourth Spray stand out as potential cuts, although each of those is painful in its own right.

        • Jay Hornung  → Eddie

          I would agree with you that those would be 2 of the more cuttable spots. Felicitys is generally played as a way to discard dead cards like extra copies of Sableye so you don’t draw them late game off Judges, and straight draw is good. The 4th Spray is to really up the chances of hitting it early and having multiples in the hand.

          Chatot G is good for reasons like you stated. It’s just all about what you think will help you control the game better.

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