Dragapult to e4

Analyzing the Results of the Players Cup Kickoff Invitational and Limitless Invitational

Hey everyone! I hope you’ve had a nice summer and enjoyed following along with (or playing in!) the recent tournaments. Not much has changed since my last article, as I’ve been out of school for the past month. It’s been a quiet summer so far, and I’m hoping that the situation takes a turn for the better so that a normalcy can be reached.

Congrats to everyone who participated in the events this past weekend!

As you would have seen in the title, this article is meant to address the results of the Players Cup Kickoff Invitational and Limitless Invitational. Though this tournament marked the end of the Limitless Online Series, the Players Cup Invitational marks the beginning (or, now, the midpoint of online qualification) of the Players Cup. I hope that you can take info from this article and apply it to deck-building and competition, if not now then in the future.

It was somewhat unfortunate that both events streamed on the same weekend, but it was still enjoyable to bounce back and forth between them. Both streams were amazing, and I have nothing but positive feedback for the Limitless and Pokémon crew. One aspect of the Pokémon stream that I really enjoyed was the quick summary of losers bracket matches. This kept the tournament flowing quickly. I would’ve liked to see slightly more gameplay, such as every knockout sequence. There was a tad too much info omitted for the viewer to reconstruct. This was mainly a factor when broadcasting single-Prize decks, as the compilation of all knockouts takes more time than with multi-Prize decks.


Thoughts on Results

While analyzing, it’s important to realize that the Players Cup Invitational actually happened two weeks before it was broadcast. This means that it was played with the mindset of Limitless Q4, which occurred on the same weekend. It’s possible that different decks/lists would have been chosen if the tournament was a few weeks later—namely Spiritomb.

I’m only going to cover Spiritomb, Dragapult VMAX, and Zacian V in this article. Blacephalon UNB and PikaRom are the other two decks in the popular five, but nothing drastic changed from those decks since Limitless Q4 or even Q3. Their average placements across both tournaments was expected.

Spiritomb’s Success

Spiritomb absolutely dominated the Limitless Invitational. With only three players piloting it, two finished in 1st and 2nd while the third tied for 9th. These players were Kevin Krueger, Luke Morsa (Celio’s Network), and Ross Cawthon, respectively. The three had reasonably different lists as well, which I’ll get into later. The archetype was certainly underrated going into the tournament and surprised many when it took it home in such dominating fashion.

Ross also played Spiritomb to the Players Cup Invitational, where he was defeated twice and tied for 7th. I was able to watch his games and notice some shortcomings against Henry Brand piloting Dragapult VMAX and Michael Pramawat piloting Blacephalon UNB. From what I saw, these weren’t mistakes on Ross’s end, just pitfalls of the deck. Ross didn’t set up well against Henry in Game 1 and was overrun after the first Spiritomb fell. Game 2 was closer, but Ross missed the final attack to close it out. Pram was able to win Game 1 with a favorable Prize trade with Tapu Fini against Blacephalon-GX, and Game 2 was similarly a back-and-forth exchange where Pram was a turn ahead.

Here are links to all three of their lists:

On the contrary, Kevin’s and Luke’s lists were much different, featuring a full count of Scoop Up Net, 0 Acro Bike, and 4–5 additional Pokémon. These lists chose to bolster consistency by playing more mobility outs for Jirachi and Oricorio-GX. Kevin’s list also played Mewtwo UNB—another way to find key Supporters and counter an opposing Marnie. Ross’s list opted for 2 Chaotic Swell as Stadium outs, while the others opted for 1–2 Shrine of Punishment and 1 Black Market p. The Black Market p was a meta counter to decks with limited or no Stadium outs, such as Combo Zacian V and PikaRom. Lastly, Ross played Blacephalon-GX for an additional kick whereas Kevin and Luke played Yveltal-GX. This coupled nicely with their damage modification tools: Galarian Zigzagoon SSH, Shrine of Punishment, and Mew UNB, which allowed for a consistent 1HKO on a big Pokémon to close out the game.

I’m hesitant to say that Ross’s list is worse than theirs due to Ross’s caliber as a player and the fact that he played a similar (or equal) list twice. It appears to me that the lists are constructed differently, and perhaps with their respective engines are built adequately. However, I’m on the train of Oricorio-GX rather than lots of Acro Bikes. The obvious downside to Oricorio-GX is that it gives up 2 Prize cards, which can immediately lose the game sometimes. It’s also easy for the opponent to make use of their Great Catcher on Oricorio-GX, as it’s a worthwhile KO in reducing the probability of a return KO.

One line of thinking for playing Oricorio-GX is as follows:

You’re worried about Oricorio-GX giving up 2 Prize cards. This means that the opponent only has to attack five times to win the game rather than six, ideally. So for Oricorio-GX to be worth it, it must net you a Prize card you would’ve otherwise not gotten without it. Once this happens, Oricorio-GX immediately overshadows its potential downside.

Oricorio-GX can net the Prize card by turning a 2HKO into a 1HKO, or making up for a missed attack. If a Spiritomb player can attack every turn for a knockout without Oricorio-GX, that person should buy a lottery ticket. The deck’s dogma is similar to that of Blacephalon UNB, Vespiquen AOR 10, and Night March. Hit what you need on most (if not all) turns of the game and you win. If you miss, you lose.

Dragapult: Mr. Consistent

Dragapult VMAX, unsurprisingly, performed alright across both tournaments. In the Players Cup Invitational, Tord Reklev and Henry Brand finished in 1st and 5th, respectively. In the Limitless Invitational, Michael Catron, Gabor Van Meenen, and AviLashan UmaShankar finished in 7th, 9th, and 13th, respectively. It’s certain that Dragapult got worse with the increased popularity of Spiritomb and Zacian V variants, as those decks were nonexistent in the Players Cup Invitational yet they dominated the Limitless Invitational.

Tord’s Dragapult VMAX

Tord has once again put on a clinic regarding deck-building. People threw in Crushing Hammers and the like in Dragapult VMAX to slow down the opponent so that 2HKOs can compete against the heavy hitters. It turns out all the deck needs to win is an unbelievable amount of consistency and linearity! But, without even joking, the idea of dedicating every single card in the list (aside from a certain few) to consistency is no new idea, especially for Tord. This list reminds me of his NAIC-winning Drampa-GX/Garbodor list. There’s no 4-count of Tapu Lele-GX here, but there is 3 Acro Bike

Pokémon (16)

4 Dragapult V

4 Dragapult VMAX

4 Jirachi TEU

2 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Giratina UNM

Trainer (35)

4 Marnie

4 Professor’s Research

3 Boss’s Orders


4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Quick Ball

4 Scoop Up Net

3 Acro Bike

2 Energy Spinner

2 Reset Stamp


3 Escape Board


2 Shrine of Punishment

Energy (9)

5 P

4 Horror P


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Dragapult V RCL 92
* 4 Dragapult VMAX RCL 93
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 2 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Giratina UNM 86

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 4 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 4 Marnie SSH 169
* 3 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 3 Acro Bike CES 123
* 2 Energy Spinner UNB 170
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 3 Escape Board UPR 122
* 2 Shrine of Punishment CES 143

##Energy - 9

* 5 P Energy Energy 5
* 4 Horror P Energy RCL 172

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81748 ******

It was fun watching him dismantle every opponent with pure consistency once again. Instead of flippy Crushing Hammers for outs to disrupt, Tord stuck with Marnie and Reset Stamp. The best defense is a good offense. And a good offense is one that always happens!

I’m unsure how effective Shrine of Punishment is in this deck, but damage is damage, I suppose. It’s a proactive Stadium that always gets some value, whereas Power Plant can be immediately replaced without any permanent damage. PikaRom is the only meta deck that is incredibly reliant on Dedenne-GX, and Shrine of Punishment is useful there as well in turning 2HKOs into extended 1HKOs with snipe damage and Galarian Zigzagoon.

Michael’s Dragapult VMAX

Now, let’s contrast Tord’s version with Michael Catron’s list from the Limitless Invitiational. Michael’s list more closely follows the traditional norms of Dragapult lists, such as a toolbox of Scoop Up Net techs, Power Plants, and the 1-1 split of Boss’s Orders and Great Catcher. Michael chose to omit Crushing Hammers like Tord, unlike the other two Dragapult players in the Limitless Invitational who played the full 4 copies. From his list, the quick swaps to add 4 Crushing Hammers are -1 Jirachi TEU, -1 Reset Stamp, -1 Energy Spinner, and -1 Power Plant.

Pokémon (17)

3 Dragapult V

3 Dragapult VMAX

4 Jirachi TEU

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH

1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX

1 Giratina LOT

1 Mew UNB

1 Mewtwo UNB

1 Phione CEC

Trainer (35)

4 Cynthia

3 Professor’s Research

1 Boss’s Orders


4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Quick Ball

4 Scoop Up Net

4 Switch

3 Energy Spinner

3 Reset Stamp

1 Great Catcher


1 Escape Board


3 Power Plant

Energy (8)

4 Horror P

4 P


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 17

* 3 Dragapult V RCL 92
* 3 Dragapult VMAX RCL 93
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
* 1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 53
* 1 Giratina LOT 97
* 1 Mew UNB 76
* 1 Mewtwo UNB 75
* 1 Phione CEC 57

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 4 Cynthia UPR 119
* 3 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 1 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 4 Switch SSH 183
* 3 Energy Spinner UNB 170
* 3 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 1 Escape Board UPR 122
* 3 Power Plant UNB 183

##Energy - 8

* 4 P Energy Energy 5
* 4 Horror P Energy RCL 172

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81748 ******

Other notable inclusions to note are Gengar & Mimikyu-GX and the Supporter engine. Cynthia/Professor’s Research is unique compared to the Marnie/Professor’s Research combination. The higher count of Reset Stamp makes up for the lack of Marnie, providing enough hand disruption steadily throughout a game. The benefit to only playing 3 Professor’s Research is that you don’t have to worry about bad discards, as the list plays more shuffle-draw. The obvious downside is one fewer card drawn with the main Supporter Cynthia, and the secondary downside is a thicker deck at the end of the game, making it harder to close out with Stellar Wish into a winning card.

Zacian V: The Recurring Novelty


Not a single person played a Zacian V variant in the Players Cup Invitational, yet there were three variants among four players in the Limitless Invitational, all of which finished in the Top 8 or better. Azul Garcia Griego and Taketo Seki played Combo Zacian V, Oliver Rochin Montijo played ADP/Zacian V, and Axel Alvarez played LucMetal/Zacian V. Each of these decks is built incredibly differently, but relies on the strong Zacian V to take 1HKOs and improve consistency with Intrepid Sword.

I tagged Zacian V as “The Recurring Novelty” because the card continues to promote unique archetypes, even within the meta shifts in the same format. The card is flexibly strong and can be played along many different partners, with each characterized in a unique way. ADP is obvious; Combo makes up for the lack of a GX attack with Jirachi p shenanigans. Lucario & Melmetal-GX utilizes a defensive approach to ensure survivability of a Zacian V, swinging the Prize trade that way.

Here’s a link to each of their lists:

Combo Zacian

There are a few differences between Azul’s and Taketo’s list. Azul’s list is Tord-esque in that it purely focuses on consistency and doesn’t deviate aside from a few tech cards. Zamazenta V is a cute card that helps the Dragapult VMAX matchup and has niche use in discarding Special Energy. Taketo’s list plays a counter Stadium, tech Pokémon, and Sonia for the price of 0 Acro Bikes.

Of these two Combo lists, I prefer Azul’s. The additional dig and thinning potential with Acro Bike is more powerful than Sonia, as the deck aims to play a draw Supporter at every point in the game anyway. In my eyes, Sonia acts similarly to Rosa in that it searches for exactly what you need—this deck always wants to search out Pokémon for the combo. However, the lack of flexibility in doing so is something I’m not a fan of. Sonia is only sometimes a good Supporter, unlike Rosa which is always a good Supporter. In order to play Sonia for the combo pieces, you must already have everything else in hand. Marnie and Reset Stamp do a great job of destroying hand progress. Finally, if Sonia is meant to be played initially, it only works well going second and if you have an Energy in hand. Not to mention it’s unlikely to have Sonia in the opening hand anyway.


ADP/Zacian V’s presence and success was unexpected due to the shift to Combo Zacian V. Another reason is that people drifted away from it due to the lack of beneficial cards from Rebel Clash, instead favoring decks that benefit from Scoop Up Net. Due to its success here, I’d expect slightly increased popularity in the future. One other thing to note is that ADP/Zacian V probably has a better matchup against Spiritomb variants, which current Combo Zacian V loses against.


Lucario & Melmetal-GX/Zacian V is the last variant we saw. This variant is completely unlike the other two, instead utilizing Crushing Hammer, Full Metal Wall-GX, and Metal Frying Pan to slow the game and take Prizes in a controlled manner. The deck aims to take 1HKOs or 2HKOs with Brave Blade + X, with X being chip damage from another attack.

Aipom SM244 is a cool card and a better Persian TEU. Aipom doesn’t get to choose cards, but is a Basic. Aipom is a strong card against Mill variants and can even hit important cards in other matchups where the opponent tries to build a large hand. If you’ve trapped the opponent in a bad hand and they try to use Intrepid Sword to get out of it, you can sneakily use Aipom to run them out of resources. Of course that’s not the first option, but it’s important to be mindful of every possibility, especially when playing an attrition deck such as this.


Tord again leads the way in terms of deck-building philosophy.

One major takeaway I found from looking at the results was the strength of a hyper-consistent list. I’m one to include various tech cards to shore up specific matchups, but given the recent success of Tord’s Dragapult list I’m convinced that his mentality can be applied across almost any deck. Once we get back into the swing of things, I’ll surely be trying that out rather than scouring for neat ideas as I so often do.

Another takeaway within the meta is that no one deck beats all. From the results of the Limitless Invitational, Spiritomb appears to be best positioned moving forward, but it can lose to Dragapult or Blacephalon if the situation goes awry. Perhaps Dragapult lists can add a copy of Big Charm to defuse the scary 3 damage counter Spiritombs. Big Charm would require 4 damage counters, meaning it can’t be achieved in a single turn without double Jynx. A soft counter to Spiritomb continues to be Power Plant, as that combined with a Reset Stamp can shut down Oricorio-GX and hopefully the opponent’s entire setup.

If I was playing in tournaments for the Players Cup, I’d roll with Combo Zacian V. It’s the most versatile deck on paper and can compete with everything very well. I’d cut Zamazenta V for Chaotic Swell for the sole purpose of countering Black Market p, as that completely shuts down winning chances against Spiritomb. Shrine of Punishment is another option, but that has marginal use and can be discarded easily from Acro Bike or Professor’s Research. Chaotic Swell will take the next Stadium down with it.

That’s all I have to say in today’s article. Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already, I suggest checking out the VODs from each of the tournaments on Twitch or YouTube. Also give me a follow on Twitter (@xanderpero) for my random musings throughout this boring summer. Spoiler: I’m usually tweeting about chess nowadays. Anyway, have a good one.


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.

Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!

Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in.